There may still be a learning curve to overcome before more people understand how artificial intelligence (AI) applications work, but people are positive or neutral about the technology’s role in customer experience (CX) design, according to research released by CDP.com.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, which aims to provide information and resources about customer data platforms, surveyed more than 2,500 people in the United States for its report, Getting Personal: Consumer Perspectives on AI in Marketing and Customer Service.
Perhaps not surprisingly, familiarity with AI helps make consumers feel more comfortable with its role in CX. Those who “work regularly with AI,” the report said, are nearly twice as likely to express a positive outlook when compared to those who do not. Overall, 58 per cent of those surveyed said they would prefer to get product recommends based on their search history, for instance, and just over half (51 per cent) wanted personalized recommendations for entertainment based upon past interactions with content and how they rated it.
Entertainment was actually the sector where respondents had the most positive outlook on Ai at 54 per cent, followed by shopping and advertising.
On the other hand, only 39 per cent said they believe AI is playing a positive role in enhancing customer service operations, compared with 38 per cent who were neutral and 23 per cent who had a negative view. This extended to AI-driven experiences such as chatbots, which were only considered helpful by a third of respondents.
The report’s authors cited sectors like retail as an example where pairing the capabilities of AI with first-party data could bring great value to CX.
“Giving store associates the ability to access a complete customer profile allows them to seamlessly continue the customer journey offline,” the report said. “For the broader organization, connecting this data with second-party, third-party and other internal data sources – like inventory or supply chain data – can help drive strategic planning around product development, or predicting demand, all of which can improve the customer experience over time.”
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Asking consumers to grade AI based on their own understanding of the technology is obviously problematic, given that many probably couldn’t explain the difference between natural language processing, machine learning and neural networks.
The report from CDP.com (which is a content marketing vehicle for Treasure Data) is more helpful in aligning support for AI with more specific CX scenarios, such as being offered grocery replenishment ideas based on what they had purchased before. In some respects, however, this felt like fairly low-level uses of AI.
Most of the findings in this research will probably not surprise anyone who has watched the way AI vendors have been targeting CMOs and their teams. Of course, as the report suggests, a investing in a CDP could position brands for greater success with AI by bringing data from myriad channels into a single location. The bigger question is whether they will deploy a CDP first and then layer in AI, try out AI in areas like their e-commerce experience or simply wait for deeper integrations between the two technologies.
The 14-page report, which is gated, also takes note of how concerns over privacy are hampering some CX strategies and includes a discussion of how the combination of AI and CDPs could help.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.