AI assistants with a touch of humanity poised to win over customers

With the recent focus on AI technology and bots, do we prefer interacting with the most human-like assistants?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Video: These AI bots are solving customer problems

Most of us encounter AI assistants and chatbots whenever we visit a brand website. But does engaging conversation help us solve our problems? According to a survey by Oracle, 80 percent of businesses say they already use or plan to use chatbots by 2020.

Read also: 5 chatbots transforming work around the world (TechRepublic)

Markets, technologies, and people are changing faster than ever, and we want an AI assistant to serve us, solve our queries, warn us of upcoming issues, and protect us from fraud.

But as more and more of us spend most of our time online, generating more and more queries for companies, customer service advisor teams must respond to our queries faster to improve our overall customer experience.

But what do we think about AI assistants?

Capital One and Wakefield Research recently asked consumers to weigh in on their preferences and attitudes about AI.

In April 2018, it surveyed over 1,000 customers to find out whether they preferred human-like personalities in AI interactions.

It discovered that 82 percent of Americans believe an AI assistant would be desirable for helping with financial tasks and 77 percent say it should have a unique (and human-like) personality .

One size obviously does not fit all when it comes to AI.

Around 56 percent of respondents said that they would feel more comfortable talking to an AI assistant about potentially embarrassing topics like health (29 percent), love (31 percent), and money (30 percent).

Capital One deployed its own gender neutral chatbot, Eno in 2017 to help customers with their personal money queries so that they did not have to speak to a human.

AI assistants need to be able to identify patterns and identify insights that are hidden within massive volumes of information in data stores that are beyond human capacity to process.

Toronto, Ont.,-based technology company Atomic X recently entered the AI marketplace, launching its chatbot, Rufus.

Read also: Survey shows that three-quarters of businesses improve revenue with AI

The AI assistant, which combines chatbot automation with live-chat, enables customers to have engaging conversations using machine learning algorithms and human-curated language sets.

Sometimes, people want an answer, and they want it immediately -- whether from a human or a bot.

Digital concierge platform Wysh uses AI technology and adds a human touch.

The platform functions as an API to service providers. It uses AI and a network of concierges and service providers in order to recognize when a customer is seeking a real person to answer more complex questions.

It enables customers to book a hotel room, or rent a car online, and get useful, personalized answers in real-time from real people instead of an automated chatbot response.

If the request cannot be fulfilled by a chatbot and the automated service, Wysh scans its network for vetted local merchants or service providers to answer the question instantly.

Global organisations that need to scale can also benefit from AI adoption. They often struggle to keep up with massive volumes of customer care inquiries from online channels often cluttered with irrelevant posts.

General Motors has reduced its time to respond to customer service requests by using Crimson Hexagon's BrightView AI to detect and classify customer inquiries from public online and direct communication channels.

GM processes up to 33 customer communications per minute from sources such as social media, emails, chat logs, and call transcripts -- so they can be routed to the proper system, reducing time to issue discovery and resolution.

This type of AI service enables companies to capture what is being said off channel, or "in the wild."

Read also: Practical applications of AI for businesses

Creating AI assistants with a more human-like connection resonates with customers. Higher level of user engagement is blurring the lines of perception between humans and machines.

Solving customer needs and getting ready for an automated future is on the cards for all businesses that want to succeed.

Having an effective data-strategy and creating efficient technology and business systems will allow enterprises to capitalize on all that valuable data they are generating.

How ubiquitous AI will permeate everything we do without our knowledge.

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