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Marketing is all about the customer experience these days, and artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to help improve the digital user experience in coming years. But a new survey from Capgemini calls into question the extent to which business executives are considering the customer experience when deciding on AI use cases.

As part of its report, Capgemini surveyed 568 executives at companies in the Retail, Consumer Products, Banking, Insurance, Utilities, Automotive, E-Commerce, and Fintech industries. About half of these respondents – who came from several countries – work at companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenues.

The survey asked respondents which parameters they rank higher when deciding on AI-enabled use cases. There were three that stood out:

  • Cost of implementation (62%);
  • Expected return on investment (59%); and
  • Availability of data (53%).

By comparison to those largely financial considerations, very few cited customer-centric factors. For example, just 1 in 10 indicated that the impact on the customer experience was a very important consideration, and even fewer said they prioritize consumer preference of applications (9%) and solving known consumer pain points (7%).

Failure to consider consumer attitudes could have obvious repercussions, particularly as some consumers are on the fence about AI-driven applications, at least in the retail sector.

Just as worrisome is that executives responding to Capgemini’s report seem in some cases to be out of touch with consumers’ preferences.

For example, fully two-thirds of 10,000 consumers surveyed separately in the report said they want to be made aware when they are interacting with AI as opposed to a human. But just one-third of executives believed that people would want to know when they’re interacting with such applications. (Think people will be able to tell on their own? Check this out. Disclaimer: there are arguments over whether the video was real or not.)

The gap between consumers’ desire to know about their AI interactions and executives’ beliefs on that front was large across all industries, ranging from Financial Services to Retail and Automotive.

It’s also worth noting that consumers generally don’t prefer pure AI-led interactions. For low-consideration products and services, a slight majority (54%) prefer a mix of human and AI interactions. Yet the remainder were almost twice as likely to prefer human-only (30%) to AI-only (17%) interactions.

Those differences are exacerbated when dealing with high-consideration products and services. Fewer than half (47%) are OK with a mix of human and AI interactions, with almost as many preferring human-only interactions (45%). Barely any (8%) would want to deal exclusively with AI when making high-consideration purchases.

Finally, while there is an age gap in the findings, it’s not terribly strong. Even youth (18-34) skew towards human-led over AI-led interactions for both low- and high-consideration purchases, and the numbers only divulge further along with increasing age.

So it would seem wise that executives do some due diligence on consumer preferences and the customer experience when deciding on their AI use cases…

The full study is available for download here.

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