How do consumers really feel about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in customer experience (CX)? For the average consumer, do these advanced technologies begin and end with the chatbot? To uncover answers to these and other questions, Redpoint partnered with Dynata to discover what consumer sentiments are around the role AI and ML play in customer experiences and their brand relationships.
Survey responses indicate that consumers are generally aware that AI and ML in some way, shape or form have something to do with their experience as a customer, even though many willingly acknowledge that they aren’t quite sure how these advanced technologies are being used. Consider that nearly three-quarters of respondents (73 percent) said that AI and ML have a potential to impact customer experience, while at the same time almost half (45 percent) expressed a lack of understanding how these technologies are being implemented.
The ubiquitous “How may I help you?” chatbot exemplifies those findings. Despite it being a familiar AI use case for anyone who has logged onto a retail, travel, healthcare or financial services website in the last few years, to name just a few examples, the chatbot’s familiarity does not necessarily make it well understood. In the Dynata survey, consumers rated the chatbot as the most ideal use of AI to improve the customer experience (of several options), yet interestingly 70 percent said that they prefer human interaction over chatbots.
Thinking of your own experiences interacting with a chatbot, these seemingly contradictory proof points are less of a paradox than they appear. That is, in general a chatbot does a pretty good job with customer triage, such as answering FAQ’s or providing a customer with the right resource, while at the same time for some customers a chatbot is viewed as little more than a gatekeeper or a queue for speaking with a customer service rep.
Even with AI/ML, Consistency is Key
Consumers in the Dynata survey may have been thinking about a chatbot experience when answering questions about the direct impact of AI and ML on their customer experience. For instance, not only do 70 percent say they prefer a human interaction over a chatbot, but 77 percent of respondents said they believe a positive customer experience in general still needs an element of human touch.
Furthermore, if organizations do employ AI/ML, consumers expect transparency. In the survey, 58 percent of consumers said that they want companies to be clear about when AI is being used. And, if it is used, it is vital that it does not introduce friction. Per the survey results, 76 percent of respondents said that if they sensed disjointed communication with AI across channels, it would make them less likely to trust and continue engaging with a brand. Not to pick on the chatbot, but a familiar example might be answering questions from a chatbot, only to be transferred to a customer service representative who asks the same questions.
What can we make of the survey results? Importantly, consumers are clear that they are all for AI/ML customer experience use cases, as long as certain expectations are met. To wit, that an experience is seamless across all channels of engagement, and that AI/ML contribute to a holistic understanding of a customer across an omnichannel journey.
If those conditions are met, then consumers welcome AI/ML as important, albeit complementary components of a digital-first, seamless customer experience.
For more survey results and coverage of the Dynata survey, click here.