Do Consumers Want AI Agents?

Written by Emily Peck on Oct 4, 2018

It’s easy to wonder what consumers want and expect out of AI.

Are they terrified that AI is taking over the world, as some media reports would have you think? Or are they mystified with Hollywood’s portrayal of AI in movies like Her and i, robot?

With AI Agents, we’re creating a new consumer behavior. We’re asking humans to trust an AI to help them in a moment of need. We’re asking them to spend their time engaging with an AI Agent, carrying on a conversation with an AI, talking to it as they would a friend.

We wanted to understand exactly what your customers think about and expect from AI.  Here’s what we learned from 1,500 real people.

What do consumers think about AI for customer service?

Takeaway 1: Consumers are visionaries

It turns out that consumers are really excited about AI and foresee many ways it can impact their day-to-day lives, from providing a “simplified life” as it can “handle mundane tasks” to empowering them to make “better decisions.”

Action – Your AI Agents need to have meaningful interactions with customers: help your customers accomplish a task or get a resolution quicker; proactively alert them of issues, or provide more personalization at the moment to aid in better decision making.  

Takeaway 2: Consumers are tuned in and have clear expectations

We found that consumers are educated about AI.  They have a smart and clear picture of what they want and what they don’t want. Above anything else, they expect an AI to be accurate, effective and authentic.

Action Consumer expectations are not unreasonable. Ensure you’re leveraging NLU to effectively understand what your customers are saying in their natural dialogue, be it text, images or emojis (today’s “digital slang”).   If you’re reaching a global audience, have localized AI Agents trained to understand local slang and nuances.

Train the AI with existing data sources like call center logs, historic emails,  social media logs, etc. so the AI learns from real exchanges and even the top agent performers.  Training an AI with FAQs is important, but by also having it learn from past tickets, it can pick up on conversational distinctions and grow its neural network.  

Takeaway 3: Consumers feel short-changed by most AI interactions

Consumers feel like most AI interactions have been unhelpful to date as they are not as good as humans at accomplishing things or have not been given the authority to make decisions.

Action AIs need to have the authority to resolve tickets, not just respond to customers. Empower the AI to approve or reject a return request, upgrade someone on a flight or refund someone based on pre-trained parameters. If AI always has to rely on a human to close a ticket, the consumer is going to believe the AI has no value and is only causing a delay as a middle-man.

Takeaway 4: Consumers want to be heard

Consumers are driven by emotion when they reach out to brands. Being heard and listened to is the most important attribute for customer service interactions, and resolution and a human voice help deliver this.  Customers do not want a relationship with brands. Quality and consistency in a company’s service and experience is what matters.

Action Empower an AI Agent to take the next best action in a particular circumstance, whether that is resolving the issue autonomously or escalating to a human (say, if it’s a complex or unique situation). An AI Agent should also be able to understand tone and sentiment and tailor a conversation to show empathy when needed. Integrate with various systems like CRM to provide the most helpful resolution to the individual based on their unique history with the brand.

AI is transforming customer service, making it more convenient and resolving issues faster than ever. Consumers are excited about how AI will impact their daily lives, but the AIs need to meet consumer expectations. Empower agents to listen to them and solve their problems, personalize to the individual when necessary, and have an empathetic ear.

To learn more about AI-enabled customer service and how can transform your customer support, let’s chat. For more information on how to help agents work faster and smarter, check out our Zoho chatbot.

For more information on customer service, visit: