Having automated, proactive conversations with your customers, driven by AI, is only possible if they trust your brand and your people. If there’s no trust, your customers won’t give you the right to use their information and even the most intelligent systems can’t run without data.
If data became the new gold or oil in the early 21st century – as is often quoted – then surely now we are beginning to see ‘trust’ becoming the new ‘data’. Trust is now the most valuable commodity a company can have. It can’t be mined, discovered, bought, or borrowed – only earned, through consistently doing the right thing by your customers.
The relationship between trust and AI is often considered as one way. You need to have a trusted brand to use AI to talk to your customers. But the relationship is more symbiotic than you might expect – AI can in fact be used to increase the trust that your customers have in your business.
This is just as well, as trust is in short supply. At the end of last year, The Atlantic published an article headlined ‘The End of Trust’. It argued that Western society is undergoing a ‘Trust recession’, where individuals are losing faith in institutions, businesses, brands, and leaders. Perhaps most damningly, the report posited we have even lost faith in each other. The article points to research by Pew that says: “Americans who believed ‘most people could be trusted’ hovered around 45% as late as the mid-’80s; it is now 30%.” The piece argues that a decline in trust spells bad news for growth, capitalism, and society as a whole.
So where does AI come in? AI enables organisations to offer three factors that are essential for increasing trust – fairness, rapport, and accuracy. Here we explore some examples of how employing the right AI tools can help you grow consumer trust within these three pillars.
AI can often treat your customers in a fairer way than humans, which are prone to prejudice, inconsistency or even simply to being in a bad mood. The world of finance is especially important for this. A human financial advisor may have an unconscious bias for suggesting one investment over another, but AI suffers from none of those compromises. While only 15% of those aged 55+ are happy to share their data with an AI tool to save money, 45% of 18-34s are happy to do this. The dial is shifting among the younger generation about how happy they are for AI to ‘think’ for them.
This is especially true in customer service too, where tempers often run high from staff and customers alike. How confident are you that your staff never react bluntly in the face of bullish consumers? AI can soak that up, provide a crucial buffer for your staff and ensure consistency for customers. This fair treatment will help increase the perception that your company can be trusted.
Providing a truly personal experience is still something much better suited to, unsurprisingly, people. However, by employing AI across your communications, there are subtle things that AI can do, which helps build trust.
In the US, ContactEngine begins most conversations in English. However, if a customer responds in Spanish, then it carries on the conversation in Spanish and remembers that preference for next time. Humans build rapport by mirroring the energy of people we like and respect. For AI, there is a careful line to tread in making sure that this doesn’t come off as inauthentic, but if it leads to a better service, then it can only help improve trust.
Using AI to build rapport by remembering preferences and key information can also help you be more transparent. Brands that know their customers’ locations, for instance, can communicate about local availability or service issues in good time. This gives customers the feeling that brands are on top of all areas of their operation – something that is crucial for trust.
There are tasks that machines are just going to be fundamentally better at, such as processing vast amounts of data to generate a response. We’re seeing huge strides in healthcare, which are increasing patients’ trust in their diagnosis. Take PinPoint for example, which employed machine learning to identify patterns in how biomarkers relate to cancer diagnosis. The algorithm is trained on data from more than 370,000 patients, leading to a high level of accuracy. The target in the UK is for the early detection of 75% of all cancers by 2028.
The ability for AI to identify patterns from large data pools is crucial for customer service in commerce too. AI can be employed to suggest offers and additional services to specific customers who are likely to be interested with a high level of accuracy.
Anyone that has experimented with ChatGPT – the chatbot from OpenAI – will be aware that AI’s understanding of language is coming along impressively but still suffers from biases, comprehension errors, data deficits and a distinct lack of nuance.
However, we are at the stage where AI is human-like enough to assist with elements of customer service and problem solving. For businesses that are investing in their AI capabilities, they need to make sure that everything they are doing is increasing the trust their customers have for them. By using AI to treat customers more fairly, build rapport, and solve challenges accurately, you will earn your customers trust and drive your sales and profits.