Artificial Intelligence: Correcting an Image Problem and Connecting with Customers Meaningfully

Artificial Intelligence: Correcting an Image Problem and Connecting with Customers Meaningfully
Only 33 percent say they’ve worked with AI in some capacity, but delve down into their lives and clearly 70 percent have come in contact with it in the form of virtual home assistants, intelligent chatbots, or predictive product suggestions.

One man is known for facing off with artificial intelligence--Garry Kasparov, Russian chess grandmaster. Kasparov faced IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer at chess in 1996 and 1997. The computer won in 1997, marking an iconic moment in the advancement of technology. In his 2017 book “Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins,” Kasparov ponders the future of artificial intelligence and its coming impact on our society. His first conclusion? It’s coming and we need to be ready for it.

Pegasystems just released a detailed study on AI awareness, "What Consumers Really Think About AI," in which over 6,000 people internationally took part in the survey, and it shows that a company using AI technology might have an image problem.

Most of us, in the back of our mind when we hear the word AI think of HAL from the movie "2001" or the Terminator movie series. It's not our fault. We've been inundated in pop culture by robot revenge stories that become self-aware — our modern age Frankenstein meme. And this fear is still alive and well today. Seventy percent of respondents fear AI and 25 percent even worry it could take over the world.

The survey shows we fear what we don't understand. People feel they know what AI is (not quite), how it affects them currently (they don’t), and that they’re unsure of whether they want to work with it (they already do). The study found over one-third said they’re comfortable with businesses using AI, while just under a third say they aren’t. And then there’s another third that say they just don’t know yet.

Only 33 percent say they’ve worked with AI in some capacity, but delve down into their lives and clearly 70 percent have come in contact with it in the form of virtual home assistants, intelligent chatbots, or predictive product suggestions.

Clearly, we need to take these fears and confusion into account and to educate people as to the myriad of ways AI can help them. The soothing female voices of Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are making large inroads into this issue (yet only 40 percent of those who have worked with Google Home or Amazon Alexa know these technologies are AI). More than 70 percent in the survey felt they understood AI, but the study showed many don’t recognize even some of AI’s most basic capabilities like the learning new things, solving problems, or understanding speech. 

Also, the study shows a clear trend among ages with respect to working with AI — many younger people actually prefer interacting with a bot or an AI assistant, but in the end most people (of all ages ) want the familiarity of interacting with a human.

Understanding why isn’t difficult. We’ve all been trapped in voicemail hell, trying to get the emotionless and slightly imperious robotic voice online (again, usually female) to understand the nuances of our problem and being sent back to the previous menu again and again…with no way out.

When customers are presented with clear examples of what AI can do for them, resistance evaporates. When asked if they were comfortable with business using AI to interact with them, 35 percent said no. However, if those respondents have had interactions with AI before, respondents had a much higher comfort level—that of 55 percent.

The way to achieve customer adoption of AI is clear. First is a policy of transparency. A quick overview outlining how the technology will interact with them is necessary.  Second is to show how AI will benefit them and give them fast, effective customer service. Finally, companies need to assuage privacy and security concerns immediately in the encounter. A clear statement of goals and limits of AI can bring it home — in many cases, literally.