March 27, 2018
Let’s set the record straight – artificial intelligence is not here to replace humans.
Unfortunately, that’s the idea many people have latched onto. Customers wonder if they can trust AI, or if the technology matches the human-cognition standards they’re used to. On the other side, employees worry for their long-term job security. Approaching new AI investments from a place of fear benefits no one, but a lack of understanding around the technology has led many brands to this operational mindset.
Fortunately, however, our 2018 Artificial Intelligence and Chatbot Report finds that humans have nothing to worry about as their organizations bring on more sophisticated solutions.
The Continued Role of People
According to our findings, humans are one of the biggest factors in helping consumers embrace AI throughout their customer journeys. For 49 percent of people, the assurance of human assistance is the extra promise they need to give AI a try in the first place.
The role of humans here can be a tough concept for businesses and consumers to wrap their heads around. If you’re bringing on AI to improve jobs that people have previously managed, doesn’t this inherently threaten employees?
Not in the least! Rather, AI enables people to do their jobs better. For example, the solution can uncover trends within consumer behavioral data and help sales representatives create messaging that better connects with potential buyers. AI also automates routine (and often cumbersome) tasks, meaning that humans are free to tackle higher-priority and more enjoyable work. And that’s great, because there are still many instances where humans make or break consumer relationships.
Using popular industries like retail and insurance as inspiration, let’s explore some common scenarios where shoppers still desire human touches:
Post-Purchase Problem Solving
After finding a desired product or service, many people want humans to handle any additional requests. For example, 80 percent of people would prefer to work with a human over a chatbot when resolving a problem post-purchase. The same goes for making changes – 63 percent of people want human assistance when updating a previously secured policy.
It’s clear that when money is on the line, consumers’ belief in chatbot capabilities goes down. Higher stakes challenge our ability to fully trust the accuracy of the information chatbots provide. e may even feel that the technology is too impersonal to sympathize with and properly solve our issues. While people are increasingly excited about using AI during the browsing and researching stages of shopping, humans still win out post-purchase.
Important Decisions/Important Information
Consumers ask for human involvement when they must rely on chatbots for important outcomes. Whether it’s managing and storing personal information, or using that data to make informed decisions, people trust people over technology. For instance, 77 percent of consumers would rather work with humans over chatbots when seeking out healthcare advice, and 80 percent say the same when sharing medical information with care providers.
We can draw two conclusions from this. First, the more sensitive the information at play is, the more likely consumers will want human involvement. This will remain true until people better understand how AI works and brands prioritize transparency into their back-end operations.
Second, although consumers may be skeptical about using AI in industries where privacy/security concerns are highest (healthcare, insurance, etc.), the technology always has a place. For example, people may not feel comfortable sharing their insurance information or SSN with a chatbot when trying to make a mobile payment, but consumers may be OK scheduling their next appointment via a chatbot-powered text window.
Last but not least, humans are crucial to in-store success. This may be the least surprising scenario. With ecommerce now available in most industries, a major motivation for consumers going in store is to earn back tactile touch points with brands. This means trying on products and seeing things first hand.
The biggest impact sales associates can have in store is answering shoppers’ questions. Seventy-one percent of people say this is an area where they would prefer human help over chatbot assistance.
There’s no shortage of opportunities for humans to make their mark with consumers. However, it’s worth remembering, that just because people want to work with humans in each of these situations, employees can still be empowered by technology.
Even in store, AI solutions can arm team members with the information required to easily address a customer’s question. If, for example, a shopper inquires about a store’s return policy, the AI system can quickly gather information about where the purchase was made, when and if the customer has made similar purchases before. This data gives our employee the resources and content he needs to provide a positive and memorable in-store shopping experience that will create repeat business.
The shopper may not have asked for AI involvement here, but she’s unlikely to reject the technology’s ability to improve her experiences. Especially if the benefits of working with AI are being communicated through a real person.
There are many more examples like these where humans and AI will continue to enhance one another’s capabilities for the foreseeable future. AI helps people do their jobs under the increasing demands of 21st-century digital culture, and people help AI overcome its reputation barrier. This relationship will change over time. But for now, humans aren’t going anywhere.
To learn more about how today’s consumers feel about chatbots, download the full 2018 Artificial Intelligence and Chatbot Report.