Human vs. Artificial: Which Intelligence Do Customers Prefer?

When it comes to engaging with your customers, efficiency can be enhanced with AI while retaining a human-centered approach.


March 9, 2023


Insights, Global

It has assimilated into our everyday lives without us really knowing what it is. It’s artificial intelligence or AI. So, for example, the Alexa located on the other side of your bedroom that you command to give you a few extra minutes in bed in the morning —that’s AI; or the GPS navigation system you use to help you get to where you’re going that also predicts the best time you should leave to get there at the time you want — that too is AI. And these are just a few examples of artificial intelligence and how much we use it without identifying it as such.

As Oracle defines it, AI is “applications that perform complex tasks that once required human input, such as communicating with customers online or playing chess.” The computer technology corporation based in Austin, Texas, says the term “AI is often used interchangeably with its subfields, which include machine learning, building systems that learn or improve their performance based on the data they consume, and deep learning, where artificial neural networks—algorithms modeled to work like the human brain—learn from large amounts of data.” We have grown to depend on this human-brain-like intelligence and machine-learning capability to make our lives easier and more efficient, especially in the business world.

Considering AI feeds on data, businesses are investing heavily in data science. This data enables computers to be programmed to learn and think independently, which helps companies reduce human mistakes, deliver consistent results, and so much more. Nine out of ten businesses have invested in AI technologies, according to a NewVantage Partners 2022 Data and AI Leadership Executive Survey. Fortune Business Insights reports that the value of the worldwide AI market is anticipated to be $267 billion by 2027, and PWC Global predicts that AI will have made $15.7 trillion in overall contributions to the global economy by 2030.

As technology increases, so too do the abilities of AI. Are consumers genuinely ready for AI now, or are we a few years away from truly understanding its benefits and identifying it as this human-like intelligence? According to a Blumberg Capital consumer survey, 26 percent of shoppers think they interact with AI at least once a day, and 46 percent believe they have a strong understanding of what AI actually is. AI in customer service is more than just chatbots; this machine-learning technology can enhance any customer experience when used correctly.

When leveraged in customer service, Forbes notes that AI can not only solve over 50 percent of customer questions but also learn customer behavior patterns, anticipate trends, measure customer wait times, and make recommendations on how to remedy an issue – all while saving money. While this artificial intelligence ability is impressive, it can never replace a human’s emotional intelligence.

When something goes wrong for a customer, they want more humanity and a brand to offer a personalized resolution. Relying on AI at this crucial point in a customer’s journey is risky. It could leave customers feeling dissatisfied or frustrated that their issue still needs to be resolved because they could not speak one-on-one with a human. Blumberg Capital reports that 43% of customers believe AI will decrease customer service satisfaction and an uptick in complaints.

We understand that AI technology was designed to save time. However, you can’t expedite the customer experience. Businesses must ensure the need to be efficient and expeditious is consistent with the one thing we cannot compete with: the human experience. Companies must be mindful of the irreplaceable sentiment that comes with interacting with other humans. Integrating some form of AI into business is to be expected; however, there must be balance. If businesses forget the value of personable support, it will undoubtedly drive customers away. Amit Ray, a respected AI scientist and author of Compassionate Artificial Intelligence, said it best: “As more and more artificial intelligence is entering into the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter into leadership.” Applying this balance in a human-centered way is key when adding AI to your business toolkit.

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