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DATA STORY: Lack of human touch biggest bane in AI-run customer service

Invasion of privacy and lack of accuracy were some of the other flaws participants of a survey pointed out.

May 22, 2018 / 04:38 PM IST

The growing popularity of artificial intelligence has extended to customer service as well, with digital or virtual assistants being increasingly used to address consumers'  problems and queries.

Research indicates that consumers are showing an increasing preference for self-service over talking to a customer service agent, customer service expert and author Shep Hyken said in a Forbes column.

Indians cited lack of human touch as the main concern in customer service run by artificial intelligence (AI), according to a survey done by PwC.

The survey, titled  "Artificial intelligence in India – hype or reality" evaluated the attitudes of people towards AI.

AI data story

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About 66 percent of people surveyed said the absence of human interaction is a concern in customer service run by AI. 27 percent were wary about the accuracy of the process.

Other drawbacks of AI-run customer service mentioned were lack of privacy and difficulty in operating AI systems. An equal number (23 percent) of people surveyed cited "too invasive/loss of privacy" and  "difficult to operate" as concerns over AI-run customer service.

About 26 percent said they would pay for 'smarter higher touch customer service' that resolves problems quickly over text message, but can also offer quick access to direct human contact. 23 percent said they would pay extra for 'Smarter customer service' that resolves issues over text message.

Data privacy was an issue with use of AI in general, with 93 percent of the survey's respondents saying they are worried about data privacy while using AI.

AI data story 2

But businesses might not need to fret over the privacy concerns, because a large number of the survey's participants believe that businesses and governments will use AI for the cause of cyber security and privacy.

Though Indians seem to be aware of the flaws of AI-run customer service, several are willing to pay for such digital assistance. About 49 percent of the respondents said  they would pay a premium for customer service run by AI.

The PwC report adds that people want AI assistants to be smart, friendly, and enable them to save time. So to use AI successfully in customer service, businesses have the tricky task of making the process efficient while proving a human touch at the same time.

Over 70 percent of Indians surveyed said they want AI assistants to be friendly and smart. 87 percent of the respondents said they want digital assistance to help them save time.

Image: Statista Image: Statista

It's not only businesses that are exploring opportunities in AI. In India, the government, too, has been trying to find ways to use AI. The Commerce Ministry last year set up a task force to study the use of AI in development.

The task force is a part of the government's Digital India drive.

Even NITI Aayog has expressed interest in the subject, and is working with Google to develop AI in India.
Ruchira Kondepudi
first published: May 22, 2018 04:26 pm

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