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Brits won over by more bots in customer service but organisations need to move more carefully on AI plans

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In a major international survey of Western consumer attitudes towards artificial intelligence (AI), when asked if they would be more open to using more AI in customer messaging & engagement if it helped save time or money, a healthy majority (60%) of British consumers agreed.

The survey suggests British consumers could be comfortable with a company using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide better customer service based on personal data. They are most comfortable with AI used to personalise online retail offers (1st), aid a doctor to make better diagnoses (2nd) and financial services advice (3rd). Meanwhile, government’s use of AI to improve citizens’ services ranks bottom – even below a car salesman’s use of AI.

However, the research suggests customer service organisations planning greater use of AI need to take into account how this level of enthusiasm may hide some deep-set concerns and confusion.

While more Brits agree (29%) than disagree (23%) that AI has the potential to improve the customer service of the businesses they interact with, this is a lower%age than other nationalities surveyed. Larger proportions of French (44%) and Dutch (42%) respondents think AI could make customer service better.  Also, today only 1 in 5 British consumers think artificial Intelligence can provide the same, if not better levels of customer service than a human can.

There are some specific sticking points to be fixed. For example:

  • Only 16% of Brits would allow businesses to access in-depth personal data about themselves to ensure they would receive better customer service from that business
  • A massive majority (77%) would want to know they were talking with a real human when using live online chat; only 8% said online chat with a robot would be fine
  • A third are anxious that AI-based customer service is never going to know them and their  preferences as well as a human being

Rob Walker, Vice President Decisioning & Analytics at Pegasystems said: “Although consumers have expressed some scepticism about the hype about AI, we believe British consumers and citizens can be won over when they understand how AI is humanising rather than mechanising how businesses interact with them. AI has a future in customer service. In fact, it is already being used to streamline processes and personalise services daily for a number of leading global organisations.

“This research tells us that although consumers are ready to embrace AI if they can see tangible outcomes and benefits, many of their existing perceptions and experiences of customer service AI are fragmented, which can result in disconnected experiences. Organisations must put the onus on technology that unifies how AI is run, for example an always-on central ‘brain’ that functions across different lines of business, channels, systems, and data. This ensures customers get consistent treatment, and the best treatment from AI-powered functions, no matter how they interact with your organisation,” Walker added.

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