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October 3, 2018 • 5 minute read

AI and the Customer Experience: 3 Situations Where Customers Prefer AI

These days, you can’t turn on the news, listen to your favorite podcast or read an article without hearing about the latest and greatest developments in AI. But for many businesses, AI is more than hype — it’s an important part of how they do business and connect with their customers. And in the world of customer care, getting AI right is a challenge many businesses will deal with for years to come.

So what does it mean to ‘get AI right’? When it comes to AI and the customer experience, it’s about adopting technology that helps your customers get things done quicker and easier. But many businesses are unsure whether AI is the best way to improve the customer experience. There has been a lot of talk in the media about the potential benefits and costs of AI, and businesses have concerns about whether consumers will adapt to using AI, or whether they will view it as too invasive or difficult to use.

To address these concerns, we conducted an online research study that asked questions about consumers’ preferences and comfort levels when dealing with AI. What we learned was that the majority of consumers are comfortable interacting with AI solutions and that — in some cases — AI is actually preferred over human interactions.

Here are three situations when your customers would prefer to interact with an effective AI solution for customer care:

1. When AI Enables Speedier Interactions

Technology changes, but the fact that your customers want to get things done as quickly and easily as possible doesn’t. And this is an area where AI can deliver. In fact, 85% of consumers cite the 24/7 availability of AI as a useful capability that enables positive customer experiences.

Additionally, about 79% of consumers said that AI solutions provide positive customer experiences when they enable consumers to interact on the channel of their choice and to speak conversationally — as if talking to a human — instead of forcing them to use “robot speak”.

2. When AI Personalizes the Experience

It’s true that AI can sometimes walk the line between creepy and helpful when it comes to personalizing the customer experience. But it turns out that the majority of consumers are comfortable using AI when it helps them easily resolve their issues, and most are even fine with AI using their personal and historical information to enhance their experience. In fact, about two thirds of consumers would find it helpful if AI used their information to solve their issues.

Roughly 3 in 5 consumers are also comfortable with AI using personal and historical information to personalize interactions, and nearly 60% are comfortable with AI using the information to predict why they are contacting the company.

Nearly three quarters of consumers are willing to tolerate AI being invasive when it brings certain benefits. The top three reasons why consumers are willing to tolerate AI are:

  • If it alerts them to a potential issue (40%)
  • If it can help resolve a technology problem quickly (36%)
  • If it can effectively solve a complex problem (36%)

Additionally, nearly 3 in 5 consumers (59%) would support companies using invasive AI capabilities if it could help them solve issues more efficiently.

3. When AI Helps Solve an Embarrassing Issue

Despite the fact that there are some situations where consumers still prefer to interact with a human agent — when they’re trying to ‘get away’ with something, for example — there are several situations where consumers actually prefer a virtual assistant.

76% of consumers are comfortable with a human not being involved when interacting with a company under a variety of circumstances. In terms of when consumers are most comfortable with humans not being involved, the top reasons include:

  • When there are convenient and effective self-service options available (30%)
  • When I’m addressing embarrassing financial information (23%)
  • When I’m in a bad mood/angry (23%)
  • When I’m addressing a private/personal issue (23%)
  • When I’m trying to get a good deal/discount (22%)

There are even some situations where consumers would prefer a virtual assistant over a human agent. Half of consumers would prefer to interact with a virtual assistant over a human agent if they are dealing with an embarrassing customer service situation, and more than 2 in 5 (44%) prefer a virtual assistant when they are upset or in a bad mood.

What Does This Mean?

One of the major takeaways from this research was that not only are consumers increasingly comfortable with using AI in customer service situations — but there are a growing number of circumstances where AI is actually preferred. We should mention, however, that this doesn’t come without caveats. Outdated or siloed technology can create frustrating customer experiences that move consumers away from using technology.

In order to benefit the customer experience, AI has to be implemented correctly. This means evaluating the customer journey to develop a strategy, considering how the AI will be a reflection of your brand, and more.

To read more about the results of our research, download our ebook: Artificial Intelligence and the Customer Experience.

Want to learn more? Let’s talk.