Consumers lack trust in artificial intelligence (AI) and don’t understand the extent to which it can make their interactions with businesses better and more efficient, according to new research from Pegasystems Inc., the software company empowering digital transformation at the world’s leading enterprises. The study, which was conducted by research firm Savanta and unveiled at PegaWorld in Las Vegas, surveyed 5,000 consumers around the world on their views around AI, morality, ethical behaviour, and empathy.
Despite AI delivering the types of customized, relevant experiences people demand, many consumers still aren’t sold on the benefits. With many businesses turning to AI to improve the customer experience, it’s important for organizations to understand their customers’ perceptions, concerns, and preferences. Key findings of the study included:
- Consumers are cynical about the companies they do business with: Sixty-eight per cent of respondents said that organizations have an obligation to do what is morally right for the customer, beyond what is legally required. Despite this, 65 per cent of respondents doesn’t trust that companies have their best interests at heart, raising significant questions about how much trust they have in the technology businesses use to interact with them. In a world that purports to be customer-centric, consumers do not believe businesses actually care about them or show enough empathy for their individual situations.
- There are serious trust issues with AI: Less than half (40 per cent) of respondents agreed that AI has the potential to improve the customer service of businesses they interact with, while less than one third (30 per cent) felt comfortable with businesses using AI to interact with them. Just nine per cent said they were ‘very comfortable’ with the idea. At the same time, one-third of all respondents said they were concerned about machines taking their jobs, with more than one quarter (27 per cent) also citing the ‘rise of the robots and enslavement of humanity’ as a concern.
- Many believe that AI is unable to make unbiased decisions: Over half (53 per cent) of respondents said it’s possible for AI to show bias in the way it makes decisions. Fifty-three per cent also felt that AI will always make decisions based on the biases of the person who created its initial instructions, regardless of how much time has passed.
- People still prefer the human touch: Seventy per cent of respondents still prefer to speak to a human than an AI system or a chatbot when dealing with customer service and 69 per cent of respondents agree they would be more inclined, to tell the truth to a human than to an AI system. And when it comes to making life and death decisions, an overwhelming 86 per cent of people said they trust humans more than AI.
- Most believe that AI does not utilize morality or empathy: Only 12 per cent of consumers agreed that AI can tell the difference between good and evil, while over half (56 per cent) of customers don’t believe it is possible to develop machines that behave morally. Just 12 per cent believe they have ever interacted with a machine that has shown empathy.
One of the critical ways organizations can increase customer trust and satisfaction is to use all the tools at their disposal and demonstrate more empathy in their interactions. But empathy is not a common corporate trait – especially when trying to maximize profitability. As AI becomes increasingly important in driving customer engagement, companies need to think about how to combine AI-based insights with human-supplied ethical considerations.