UK Customers Wary of AI Future

April 12, 20194min

Large majorities of British consumers prefer dealing with humans over automated services for everything from querying a bill (85 percent) and changing account details (62 percent), to making a complaint (84 percent), buying a product or service for the first time (77 percent), chasing an order (73 percent), or dealing with a fault (78 percent).

These are the findings of an online YouGov survey of more than 2,000 British adults commissioned by CX firm Webhelp.

Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) said they had never used any type of AI, but amongst those who had there was widespread dissatisfaction around its efficacy and perceived value. Nearly half (44 percent) also believe that AI will not positively impact their lives in any way over the next five years.

Just over a quarter of respondents said they had used a customer service chatbot (27 percent), interactive voice response or IVR (27 percent), or smart home speaker such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home (26 percent).

Whilst over a third of those who had used these types of AI were dissatisfied with the chatbots (35 percent) and IVR (38 percent), smart home speakers proved more popular – possibly because these are chosen rather than encountered by chance. Fewer than half (45 percent) of those who had experienced a customer service chatbot were satisfied with it and 38 percent were either fairly or very dissatisfied with IVR. In contrast, 77 percent claimed to be satisfied with smart home speakers.

Looking ahead five years, over a quarter of respondents (26percent) felt that increased use of AI-driven Customer Experience tools would make interacting with companies “much worse” compared to only 19 percent who felt the impact would be positive. Other negative perceptions include fear that AI will make dealing with brands/companies more impersonal (52 percent), increased threats to privacy and security (46 percent), and detrimental impact to human-to-human interactions (43 percent).

Webhelp CEO David Turner said: “We know from anecdotal evidence that human-to human contact is important, but this study goes even further, highlighting the degree to which people favour it over AI-powered customer service tools and are negative about AI’s potential future impact.

“As exposure to AI increases in day-to-day life, people are likely to become more receptive, but this research confirms the importance of striking the right balance between the advanced technology services we offer and the incredible human talent of our local teams of agents, advisors and planners. Our approach will always be customer experience driven, so this window into consumer perception is extremely valuable for helping our clients implement AI solutions which offer clear end-user value.”

Paul Ainsworth

Paul Ainsworth

Experienced Irish journalist and former newspaper editor now helming executive editorial duties with Customer Experience Magazine, the UK's premier online source for Customer Experience news, features, and opinion, along with its sister site, CXM World.

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