Over-reliance on AI could see businesses lose out

26th Jul 2018

A new report compiled by The Institute of Customer Service has found that almost half of UK customers (48%) would stop using organisations if they were faced with the prospect of speaking to robots instead of people. 

The Heart of Artificial Intelligence report analysed the attitudes of consumers, employees and employers towards the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), its effect on customer service and trust in organisations.

The results reveal that 13% of customers would refuse to use the organisation if there was no opportunity to speak to a human first, while 35% would seek an alternative provider.

In terms of an online medium, although 62% of people stated that they would be willing to communicate with an artificial chatbot, 70% would still rather deal with a real person.

Trust appears to be a defining factor for consumers when it comes to AI, with the majority of individuals stating that they believe companies should make it wholly transparent if and when they aren’t dealing with real people.

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, commented: “Consumers want the adoption of AI to be implemented through businesses being transparent and involving customers in the testing of new technologies before widespread adoption.”

Attitudes in businesses were less sceptical. 28% of employees think it has created new job opportunities, and 59% of employees with extensive experience of working alongside AI believe it improves the customer experience. 

However, doubt was still cast upon the usefulness of AI, with more than half of employees saying they didn’t believe it had made a difference to customers or their jobs. A quarter (26%) felt that AI had led to job losses. The report makes clear that employees, as with customers, remain wary of the role AI plays.

It concludes that while there is a clear role for AI, there is a perception gap between business and consumer appetites for its use, which needs to be addressed by UK businesses.

Causon concluded: “Customers and businesses still want and need human intelligence, and rather than seeing AI as a quick fix to make savings, businesses need to focus on reinvesting in the end to end customer experience, and the skills of those delivering it.”

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