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Transparency can bridge the AI 'trust gap' with customers 


In the age of AI, trust is paramount. This article explores the findings of a recent survey, discussing customer concerns and strategies for enhancing CX.

15th Sep 2023

As artificial intelligence and a changing economy continue to shape our world, businesses face a new challenge: earning customer trust in their use of AI. Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report explores how the growing influence of AI is affecting customer engagement and experience.

Based on a survey of 14,300 consumers and business buyers in 25 countries, the report reveals insights into the factors that impact purchase decisions and customer expectations across different areas of businesses. 

Ethical concerns surrounding AI

AI adoption has allowed companies to improve efficiency and keep up with changing standards. However, the report highlights a significant issue: over 75% of customers are concerned about the ethical use of AI. This demonstrates the presence of an AI trust gap which presents an opportunity for companies to confront the concern directly.

Over 75% of customers are concerned about the ethical use of AI.

“Ethical AI is a pressing concern for our customers and for our customers’ customers,” said Kathy Baxter, Principal Architect Responsible for AI & Tech at Salesforce. “Getting it right means creating AI with trust at the centre of everything you do. That means gathering data with transparency and consent, training algorithms on diverse data sets, and never storing customer information insecurely.”

UK customer insights

The UK-specific findings include: 

  • Trust in AI: 78% of UK customers express concerns about companies employing AI unethically, indicating a strong need for businesses to prioritise ethical AI practices.
  • High expectations: Nearly half (49%) of UK customers now expect companies to not only understand their changing needs but also deliver faster service as technology continues to evolve.
  • CX as a differentiator: 81% of UK customers state that the experience provided by a company is just as important as its products. 
The state of the connected customer summary. Stats are in this article and the linked report

Using AI responsibly

According to the report, customers have faith in companies’ honesty regarding their products and services, but they become less trusting when it comes to the ethical implementation of AI. Only 53% of customers trust companies to use AI responsibly. 58% of UK customers feel that better transparency regarding companies’ use of AI could significantly improve their trust in the technology.

90% of those surveyed believe it’s essential for brands to clarify whether customers are engaging with artificial intelligence or a human.

As businesses increasingly use generative AI to enhance different aspects of their operations, UK customers stress the significance of an empathetic approach to AI integration. They prioritise security, ethics, and human supervision. Notably, 90% of those surveyed believe it’s essential for brands to clarify whether customers are engaging with artificial intelligence or a human.

Improving the experience

According to the report, CX is crucial in distinguishing brands from each other. The data collected shows that economic factors significantly affect brand loyalty. As the cost of living rises, 74% of UK customers switch brands to find better deals.

However, meeting customer demands at scale can be challenging. For example, 74% of UK customers expect immediate responses when contacting a company, and 56% want companies to adjust to their changing preferences.

Strategies for better CX

The report suggests strategies that can improve customer experience at scale:

  • Balancing assistance: While personalised assistance is vital for complex cases, more straightforward issues can be addressed through self-service tools such as FAQs, chatbots, and account portals.
  • Willingness to pay for support: Over a third of customers are willing to pay more for better customer support.
  • Building trust: Clear communication regarding the need for personal data can increase customer trust, boosting opportunities for improved sales, commerce, marketing, and service experiences.

Looking ahead

To meet increasing expectations, organisations need to align their values with customer needs and adopt ethical AI practices. Based on the report by Salesforce, companies should prioritise customer trust.

Michael Affronti, SVP & GM Commerce Cloud at Salesforce, said: “As brands find new ways to keep up with rising customer expectations, they must also consider diverse viewpoints among their base. Leading with strong values and ethical use of emerging technologies like generative AI will be a key indicator of future success.”

Are you interested in learning more about CX technology? Browse our Brand Directory of 100+ customer experience technology providers.

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