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Digital Interactions Are Changing Attitudes on What Makes a Connection Human, Global Study Finds

New Longitude survey of over 5,600 people across 16 countries highlights acceptance of automated machines is growing among consumers, but transparency is key

Verizon Business released findings from its Human Connection Survey, conducted by Longitude. With responses from more than 5,600 consumers globally, the data shows that while the option to interact with a human is still essential, blended interactions—offering both AI and human support—are as or more satisfying to consumers than human-only interactions when it comes to customer service.

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“In today’s hyper-connected world, where consumers are willing to switch brands after one bad experience, providing good customer service is crucial for driving business continuity and growth,” said Aamir Hussain, Senior Vice President of Business Products, Verizon Business. “At Verizon, we’re focused on delivering solutions that provide the right balance between machine and human intelligence to create better experiences for our customers that will give them the competitive edge they need for their business operations.”

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Technology Transparency and The Human Connection

While 56 percent of consumers say they are now comfortable with a fully automated interaction in which the company demonstrates a good understanding of their preferences, attitudes or other personal interactions, a connection with a human is particularly desirable in customer service situations. Most survey respondents (62%) would prefer a direct interaction with a human—voice, real-time chat or in-person—to a fully or partly automated interaction (37%) in order to resolve a customer service issue.

Furthermore, the survey data highlights the roles played by humans and machines in their online interactions with brands need to be clearly defined. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) want companies to be honest about using AI-powered bots to guide interactions. Such transparency appears to be the norm, but 41 percent of respondents would reduce their involvement with a company if it were not forthcoming.

Additional survey findings:

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  • 78 percent of respondents agree blended interactions (offering both AI and human support) are as or more satisfying than human-only interactions when it comes to customer services.
  • 48 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 (and 41% overall) say it is entirely possible to have a “human connection” in a fully automated interaction.
  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents say that interacting with machines online is a more positive experience for them than it was two years ago.
  • There is a fine line between knowing your customer and knowing too much. While only 13% of respondents say that a company obtaining information about them from a third party is a factor in a negative interaction, 34% of customers (and 52% of those aged between 55 and 65) have ceased interacting with a brand completely if the company has obtained information about them from a third-party.
  • Half of US consumers in the survey say they do not usually need a human agent to help them get customer support—considerably more than in Europe (43%) or Asia-Pacific (38%).
  • More respondents in the US (47%) than in the other regions also say it is possible to have what they define as a human connection in a fully automated interaction.
  • When asked about the brands they feel most positive about, 52% of US consumers say the interactions they have with those brands tend to be mostly or fully automated. For Asia-Pacific consumers it is 45%, and among European ones it is 42%.

As the tools that AI and machine learning power become better at understanding nuance and sentiment, automated interactions will take on more human-like characteristics, which will allow organizations to reduce the need for human intervention. If brands don’t try to pretend these are real human-to-human experiences, they will profit from the improved customer experiences they create. For the full survey findings, read the whitepaper, “The Human Connection: Technology for Better Customer Experience.”

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Driving Customer Excellence with Verizon Contact Center and CX

With over 30 years of expertise in customer experience, Verizon offers several Contact Center as a Service solutions with digital/AI experience capabilities, such as Virtual Contact Center(CXOne), Genesys Cloud, Digital CX and Conversational IVR. Most recently, Verizon added Cisco Webex Contact Center, a next-generation cloud contact center solution designed to maximize agent productivity and improve customer satisfaction, to its robust cloud contact center portfolio of solutions.

Verizon Business also offers a portfolio of Contact Center as a Service solutions, supported by Professional Services, that enable rapid time to market and the ability to drive revenue with every customer interaction, while minimizing upfront capital investments, to deliver a digital-first customer experience and improve customer satisfaction. Interested enterprises can also take advantage of Verizon’s 4G LTE / 5G wireless network to provide remote agent access, even from rural locations. Learn more about all of Verizon Business’ cloud contact center solutions here.

Verizon Communications Inc. was formed on June 30, 2000 and is one of the world’s leading providers of technology and communications services. Headquartered in New York City and with a presence around the world, Verizon generated revenues of $128.3 billion in 2020. The company offers data, video and voice services and solutions on its award-winning networks and platforms, delivering on customers’ demand for mobility, reliable network connectivity, security and control.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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