Across industries, CEOs are wrestling to find the right balance between humans and increasingly cost-effective and advanced robots and artificial intelligence (AI). In the recent past, many organizations that tried to automate everything while losing the human touch have failed miserably and needless to say, those that resist automation or the use of AI do not even have the chance to exist after some years.
A new research from Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute reveals that 55 percent of consumers prefer interactions enabled by a mix of AI and humans, and 64 percent want AI to be more human-like. These human-like qualities can generate significant goodwill and drive a greater propensity to spend for nearly half of consumers.
In reality, however, many organizations are failing to take consumer pain points and preferences into account when applying AI technology to their customer experience, focusing more on traditional metrics such as the cost of implementation and expected return on investment (ROI).
The report, which surveyed 10,000 consumers and more than 500 companies across 10 countries, including India, found that 63 percent of AI-aware consumers like AI because of its 24/7 availability and how it provides greater control over their interactions. Consumers are also opening up to the possibility of digital alter egos – 48 percent say the opportunity to be able to delegate tasks to an electronic personal assistant is exciting, with another 46 percent believing it will enhance their quality of life.
Consumers want human-like, not human-looking AI Consumers’ growing comfort in using AI is also increasing their reassurance in AI having human-like attributes. More than three in five consumers (62 percent) are comfortable with human-like intellect. Nearly half (49 percent) say they would have a higher affiliation to a company if their interactions enabled by AI were more human-like. Surprisingly, this preference transcends the generations. Across all age groups between 18 and 55 years, consumers prefer interactions to be enabled by a mixture of human and AI.
However, customers want their AI to be heard, and experienced, but not seen. While they are keen for AI to have a human-like voice (62 percent) and the ability to understand human emotions (57 percent), physical features are deemed “creepy.” More than half (52 percent) of customers are not comfortable when AI is set up to look like a person. The report also finds that two-thirds of consumers (66 percent) would like to be made aware when companies are enabling interactions via AI.
Businesses fail to prioritize customer experience when implementing AI Despite consumer appetite for AI-powered customer experiences, businesses are prioritizing traditional metrics over customer preferences. The report found that 62 percent of organizations are prioritizing cost and 59 percent of organizations are prioritizing ROI as the most important factors when implementing AI technology. Just seven percent of organizations rank solving known consumer pain points, and 10 percent rank impact on customer experience as important factors in implementing AI-enabled use cases.
That is a clear oversight, details the report, given that consumers are willing to spend more when the experience is positive. The report found that 38 percent of shoppers have purchased more following a good AI-enabled experience, with a quarter increasing their spend by up to 10 percent. In addition, AI-enabled interactions also foster more loyalty to and higher trust in the company.
Mark Taylor, Chief Experience Officer, Digital Customer Experience Practice, at Capgemini said, “It is somewhat ironic that natural language processing and machine learning provides organizations with the opportunity to build deeper, more human relationships with their customers. By focusing their AI implementations to reimagine, streamline and simplify customer interactions, organizations can boost customer spend and loyalty. To see the biggest bottom-line boost, firms need to make both artificial intelligence and customer experience a strategic priority.”
Therefore, one can say, regardless of industry, it’s only by maintaining a human touch – thinking and seeing the bigger picture – that automation and AI can add the most value to businesses.