Consumers Warming to AI But Want More Transparency, Data Privacy, and Human-like Touch: Report

A new global study released by Pegasystems, the software company empowering customer engagement at the world’s leading enterprises, revealed consumers are open to the promise of AI-powered customer experiences but need more transparency, data privacy, and a human-like touch to feel more comfortable with machine-powered interactions.

According to the survey of 6,000 consumers across six countries, nearly 70 percent of respondents are open to AI solutions assisting them in their daily life – for example, to save them time or money – and nearly 40 percent expect AI to improve customer service in the future. But despite this potential, current AI experiences are falling short of consumers’ expectations, presenting an opportunity for companies to set themselves apart. More consumers than not (38 percent vs. 26 percent) said they don’t think AI delivers the same or better service than humans can today.

The survey identified three core areas that businesses need to address to help make AI a customer experience differentiator:

·         Bringing a more human-like touch: The study revealed a significant preference for human interaction over AI-powered experiences for customer service – making it imperative for businesses to better humanize their AI or supplement it with live agents. The most popular method to get help remains calling a human service agent (45 percent) – beating online chat (20 percent), social media (3 percent), or going into a store (15 percent). When consumers do turn to online channels, an overwhelming majority (nearly 80 percent) want to chat with a real person, not with a machine. This sentiment was shared across all age groups, even with younger or digital native respondents.

·         Increasing transparency: An overwhelming 88 percent of consumers demand businesses be transparent about how and when they deploy automated bots. To earn increased trust, businesses will need to be more open about where AI is currently being used while also showcasing how it improves the customer experience.

·         Ensuring data privacy: While a majority of consumers said they are open to using AI, only 27 percent are willing to give over their personal data to get better customer service. This presents a significant obstacle for organizations that need a steady stream of data to continuously learn and improve their AI systems. Businesses must continue to find ways to ensure data privacy to help customers be more comfortable with sharing information so they can experience the value of AI.

The survey also uncovered which industries consumers trust most using AI to interact with them. Retail topped the list with 34 percent of respondents saying they feel comfortable using AI in online retail situations for personalized product recommendations. Twenty-seven percent are open to a doctor using AI to help make a better diagnosis or recommendation about their health treatment – surprisingly the second most popular scenario. Consumers were least likely to trust the government, with only 10 percent open to it using AI.