Businesses Need to Bridge the “AI Gap” Now to Demonstrate Benefits to Customers

According to LivePerson’s just-published State of Customer Conversations 2024 report, business leaders need to start seriously rethinking their plans for AI. In fact, there’s a clear divide coming up between business leaders and their customers regarding AI adoption, enthusiasm, and education. In other words, an "AI Gap" has erupted thanks to all of the hype, backlash, and confusion around AI – and it’s time to figure out how to close the gap if we want the general consumer population to get onboard.

Among the report’s key findings: despite the advances and attention around AI (especially generative AI) over the past year, only half of consumers feel positive about using AI to interact with brands, while a massive 91% of business leaders feel positive about using AI to engage with customers. This gap may stem from the average consumer's unfamiliarity and need for clarity about how AI can be used to make their lives easier and more convenient. As it turns out, business leaders are more familiar with and educated about AI, with 92% saying they are learning to work with AI to do their jobs — compared to just 36% of consumers.

Business leaders anticipate AI benefits, but LivePerson's report suggests consumer caution, stressing the importance of trust-building efforts.

But there's good news for business leaders hoping to reap the rewards of their investments in AI — consumers do anticipate benefits from AI over the long term, with two out of every three saying they expect how they work with a business to improve over the next five years thanks to AI. Gen Z is even more positive, anticipating the benefits coming within the next calendar year. That's a bright spot for brands, because 80% of 18-24-year-olds say their loyalty to a company would go up if they could communicate with automation for faster service.

However, the report also revealed AI gaps between different age groups — with vast differences of opinion emerging between Gen Z (18-24-year-olds) and Baby Boomers or seniors (65 and up). It found that 64% of Gen Z is more comfortable with AI this year than just 36% of Baby Boomers. The survey data also revealed that 84% of Gen Z would prefer to buy from companies whose AI limits bias, compared to just 57% of seniors. Gen Z is also much more interested in AI that can predict what they want (64% vs 40%) and recommend gifts for others (68% vs 36%). Finally, all age groups prefer to buy from companies whose AI is supervised and managed by human agents that can intervene as needed.

Brands need to demonstrate AI's power to every generation if they want to sway consumer sentiment toward the technology and ensure their investments in it pay off. This is especially important to business leaders who touch CX, since most consumers' first experience with business AI is via the call center or customer service. This is not something that can afford to wait: the report also revealed an enthusiasm gap for AI in customer service. While 93% of business leaders are "excited" for AI to make an impact on customer service experiences, only 53% of consumers feel the same way.

The State of Customer Conversations 2024 report underscores disparities in AI perception, signaling a need for consumer education.

Businesses that focus on the following three priorities can build a better customer journey with conversational AI that helps bridge these gaps:

1. Put conversations at the center of your CX strategy

73% of consumers say they are more critical of how businesses interact with them than a year ago. This is why brands must focus on facilitating meaningful conversations from customer inquiries and learning from them. No matter how strong your tech stack is, it's not about the AI — it's about the conversation. When brands start putting conversations at the center of their business, its impact can be felt throughout every part of the organization.

2. Despite consumer caution — don't hit the brakes on AI

Consumer caution around AI means opportunity for your organization — opportunity to exceed customer expectations for an AI chatbot and set the standard for AI-powered customer engagement. Brands that take advantage of the AI gap now will reap the benefits of customer loyalty and get ahead of lagging competitors.

3. Build trust in AI through intuitive automation

The only way to get your customers across the AI gap is to bridge it with trust. Creating no-nonsense AI that provides fast, accurate, and reliable solutions for your customers' most significant pain points is the key to easing customers into AI. The State of Customer Conversations 2024 report found that consumers are looking for AI that is monitored by humans, built on quality business standards, limits bias, and can take direction. Listen to customer feedback and create AI solutions that solve problems — not create new ones.

Despite the “AI Gap” manifesting in several ways today, businesses that put together engaging, helpful AI-powered experiences now will open up an advantage over their competition. They can do this by using AI to better understand what their customers are saying, empower their employees, and save everyone time by speeding up resolutions and using data to continuously improve the customer experience. Customers are telling you what they feel about AI — are you listening?

About author: Nirali Amin is Senior Vice President of Global Solutions and Success at LivePerson (Nasdaq:LPSN), a global leader in enterprise conversations. She leads a team passionate about helping customers achieve their goals using conversational and generative AI, and has more than 20 years of experience in digital and AI domains working across verticals including financial services, retail, telecom, travel, automotive, and SaaS.
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