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  • Emmanuelle Serrano

Use of AI and CX: consumers still divided

While consumers are convinced that artificial intelligence (AI) will transform their customer experience, they are concerned about its increasing prevalence in other areas, as a new study by Pegasystems Inc. shows. The study, conducted by Savanta, questioned 5,000 consumers around the world about artificial intelligence, its evolution, and their interactions with this technology.

The study reveals a high level of acceptance of AI when it comes to customer experience. Two-thirds (64%) of those questioned believe that AI can improve companies' customer service, and 37% believe that companies that have adopted AI will be able to offer their customers a better deal than those that have not. On the other hand, half of respondents (50%) say they interact with companies' proven AI services without difficulty, and 54% expect large corporate departments to be driven by AI and automation within a decade. On the other hand, the study revealed a great deal of mistrust towards AI in several areas.

A preference for humans

Despite an undoubted interest in the use of AI in customer engagement, 69% of respondents say they prefer to interact with a person rather than AI. The vast majority (79%) believe that a bank employee will be better able to make an objective and impartial decision about granting a bank loan. Even more (77%) admit that they would trust a doctor's diagnosis more than that of an AI, despite a better track record, because it would not be able to demonstrate or explain how it came to that diagnosis. And finally, although 39% of those questioned believe that an autonomous car can make a more ethical decision than a driver in order to avoid an accident, 40% believe that an AI should never take precedence over a human in such a situation.

The rise of machines

For the vast majority of respondents (86%), AI could evolve towards amoral behaviour. 24% even think that this has already happened. Almost half (41%) think it likely that generative AI will one day acquire a conscience. Around a third (36%) fear that human beings will become slaves to AI, a slight increase on the 27% who expressed the same fears in a similar study in 2019. Only 10% have no concerns about artificial intelligence.

True and false

The study underlines that the public is generally aware that artificial intelligence is now a tool of everyday life. For half of the respondents, the technology already produces 45% of the photos and videos they watch. What worries them more and more is the difficulty of distinguishing the real from the fake. A majority say they have difficulty determining whether content has been generated by humans or artificial intelligence: almost two-thirds (61%) when it comes to articles, 53% in the case of photos, 52% for videos, and 54% for TV reports.

"Now that AI is available to the general public thanks to applications such as Midjourney and ChatGPT, it's not surprising to see divided opinions. Let's not forget that many people have already accepted the benefits of this technology. After all, there's nothing more normal than asking Alexa or Siri a question," notes Rob Walker, Managing Director of Personalised Customer Engagement at Pega.

"However, now that all the spotlight is on this technology, it's inevitable that uncertainties and fears are growing about the 'doomsday scenarios' it inspires. As concerns mount, it is becoming clear that companies need to be more transparent about the results produced by these AI systems. Ethical bias tests are needed to monitor their behaviour at all times.

"We are seeing that the public is less reticent about using AI, but still prefers not to involve it in major decision-making. Consumers still prefer to interact with company staff. The human aspect, therefore, remains essential. There needs to be a human presence at every stage of the customer experience. Artificial intelligence should be used to complement and enhance the skills of employees, not to replace them. Companies that succeed in this adaptation will reap many benefits, including happier customers and increased productivity."

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