AI, AI. Everyone’s talking about AI. Even AI’s talking about AI. But it’s for a good reason.
This year, artificial intelligence has completely transformed how marketers and customer service professionals approach consumers, and pretty much every aspect of their businesses.
In a game which values personalisation, AI’s ability to process millions, and possibly billions, of data points means unrivalled efficiency for marketers. But along with this collection and processing of data comes risks.
Remember, the key to a customer’s heart is trust. So, will investing in AI provide a personalised experience so strong customers won’t mind the data privacy risks? Or will the risk of breaches ruin the benefits of AI? Or can you implement both simultaneously?
It’s the age-old question of privacy vs personalisation, but on an unfathomable scale. Let’s jump in.
AI-powered Personalisation Vs Privacy: Who Will Win?
Every business is hungry for more data. But it’s not always possible to gather information in a scalable way. So, AI seems like an easy fix.
From speed, to automation, AI can move faster than any human analyst. From this comes the ability to understand customer’s needs. To provide an effective customer experience, businesses have to understand, and know, each customer on a personal level. AI makes this possible.
Plus, AI is continuously learning and improving from the data it analyses, and can even predict certain customer behaviours. But with all this data, data privacy is put in the spotlight.
Data privacy is already a concern for many customers, and AI is accelerating this trend immensely. It magnifies the ability to use personal information in ways which can feel creepy to consumers.
Customers often agree to provide personal information online, without thinking twice about it. Think about all those terms and conditions you’ve accepted without reading. Yep, every single one. Plus, seemingly anonymous personal data can be de-anonymised by AI, according to Bernhard Debatin, an Ohio University Professor.
Consumers know this. They know their data is being mined and can be left feeling vulnerable. So, the key to successful use of AI technology is understanding the customer is key, and the customer must remain a priority. It is about not only building trust in your company, but your company’s ethical use of AI.
The Consumer Perspective
So, as we’ve established, consumers are feeling understandably cautious about the tech.
As the tech becomes more solidified in the public eye, customers will be exposed to examples of companies misuse of the data, and the risks it causes. This may even lead to the reluctance to trust a company’s overuse of AI.
“Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is becoming increasingly prevalent, from virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa to autonomous vehicles and facial recognition systems. However, using AI technology raises privacy concerns, mainly concerning personal data,” Bhaskar Ganguli, Director, Marketing and Sales, Mass Software Solutions said at a recent technology event in London.
Consumers are aware data is used for personalisation, and often they’re willing to make the trade. Over four out of five (81%) of consumers are willing to share basic personal information for personalisation. But they want to know where this data is going and would be willing to share more if the brand is transparent.
Personalisation has always been key to marketer’s campaigns. In fact, a recent Gartner survey found that marketers are increasingly focusing their attention on personalisation efforts, with 42% executing one-to-one personalised messages to customers.
But while bad personalisation can be damaging, over-personalisation can be worse.
With the amount of data accessible through AI, and its ability to provide highly-targeted messaging, it may be perceived as inappropriate or creepy. So, over-personalisation may be more damaging than no personalisation at all.
The disconnect between customers and businesses regarding the impact of AI tech on privacy is significant.
In the Consumer Privacy Survey, around 60% of consumers expressed concern about how organisations apply and use AI today, and 65% have even lost trust in businesses over their AI practices.
However, 96% of security professionals state that their businesses have processes in place to meet the ethical standard of privacy. So is AI worth the risk of lack of trust?
Remember, trust is essential in marketing because it’s the foundation for successful relationships between customers and businesses.
It helps to build loyalty and encourages customers to keep coming back. It also helps businesses to create a positive reputation and develop a strong customer base.
The thing is consumers demand personalisation. That’s the fact of it. 71% expect companies to deliver personalised interactions, and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
AI provides the opportunity to give customers the experience they want. The only option is to use AI responsibly and maintain a level of trust in your organisation.
So, What’s the Fix?
Well, it’s all about trade-offs. Give a little to get a little. People are open to AI being used by marketing to deliver personalised recommendations about products and services, but this comes with a few caveats.
So companies can have their cake and eat it, too. But as we’ve said, it has to be done in a specific way.
Data Accuracy. In a promotional video, Google’s Bard answered a question incorrectly. Now, that might not seem so bad, but it raised questions around data accuracy and data quality. If consumers are providing their data willingly, it has to at least be effective and accurate.
Data Protection and Safety. Organisations must built trust with customers so they feel like their data is safe and will be used responsibly. So, an internal strong data governance policy, tools, and practice is vital for this trust to be maintained.
A Trustworthy Company. 44% of consumers say they’re open to AI-powered recommendations, but it depends on the company. This means a company’s reputation for data transparency is key to consumer trust.
Familiarity With AI. As consumers become more familiar with the tech, they’ll trust it more. If a group says they regularly use AI-tools, they are more likely to express a positive sentiment on AI’s impact on customer experiences. So, maybe it’s just a waiting game.
Well, it looks like AI is taking over the world, one personalised experience at a time. But with great power comes great responsibility.
Ultimately, it’s a game of trust, and it’s up to businesses to play their cards right. So, let’s hope they don’t go all-in and end up with a bust.