Recent research conducted by Qualtrics sheds light on consumer attitudes towards AI, particularly in legal, medical and financial contexts.
While consumers acknowledge the potential benefits of AI, concerns about privacy, transparency and emotional understanding persist across several industries, and in all probability reflect concerns in every industry that is being impacted by AI.
The state of consumer confidence in AI
According to the Qualtrics study, nearly 75% of individuals express comfort in engaging with AI-powered chatbots for customer service inquiries.
Moreover, 55% of respondents are open to AI technology being integrated into their medical and financial matters.
However, it is crucial to note that most consumers still desire transparency regarding the involvement of AI in their interactions.
Transparency and disclosure of AI’s involvement
The majority (88%) of consumers prefer to know if they are interacting with AI, with 41% expressing the desire to always be informed. This demand for transparency is both central, and already widely recognised.
Consumers exhibit higher resistance to AI when it concerns sensitive matters that require confidentiality and may have lasting consequences, such as legal, financial and medical affairs.
This resistance is particularly prevalent among older individuals, with over 50% of those aged 55 and above expressing discomfort with AI involvement in such scenarios.
Despite the desire for transparency, approximately one-quarter (24%) of individuals remain uncertain if they have directly interacted with AI.
This uncertainty is more pronounced among less tech-savvy individuals, with 35% of those who do not use new technologies unsure if they have encountered AI.
These findings highlight the need for clearer communication and awareness initiatives to bridge the knowledge gap surrounding AI.
Customer service chatbots as an AI touchpoint
One notable entry point for AI technology is customer service chatbots. The study reveals that 72% of respondents are comfortable engaging with chatbots for customer service needs.
While 41% believe AI-powered chatbots provide faster customer service than human representatives, speed alone is not sufficient to win over customers.
Almost half of respondents who consider switching to a company with faster customer service expressed hesitation when they learned it was AI-powered, with 20% stating that it would deter them entirely.
Artificial Emotionality (AE), Ethics and Privacy
The Qualtrics study found that consumer confidence in AI-powered chatbots diminishes when it comes to their ability to accurately respond to emotions.
Only 25% of respondents agree that chatbots can understand and appropriately address emotions, while 47% disagree.
Privacy concerns were also dominant; with nearly 60% of consumers expressing some level of worry about the security of their personal information during interactions with chatbots.
The study revealed that consumers harbour concerns regarding the impact of AI on various fronts. These include apprehensions about job displacement (58%), risks to data privacy (40%), and the spread of misinformation (36%).
To assuage these concerns, around half of respondents desire control over their personal data's usage in training AI models, transparency regarding the training process and human verification for AI-generated outputs.
The responsibility of AI companies
While multiple stakeholders share responsibility for the ethical use of AI, consumers primarily hold AI companies accountable for ensuring ethical practices.
Companies developing AI technologies bear the onus of fostering transparency, protecting privacy and addressing societal implications.
By prioritising these aspects, AI companies can strengthen customer trust and relationships.
Consumer attitudes towards AI in legal, medical and financial matters may indicate a willingness to embrace AI, albeit with serious reservations. Disclosure, transparency, emotional understanding, and privacy are key concerns that must be addressed to build consumer confidence.
AI companies must embrace their ethical responsibility, demonstrating transparency, safeguarding privacy and actively engaging with consumers to alleviate concerns.