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Getting to the heart of Artificial Intelligence

The debate over the role of artificial intelligence and its impact on the future of human jobs is the most important current trend in our industry, for customers, employees and businesses alike.

Getting the balance right between humans and AI both now and into the future is the key concern for everyone involved in customer management, which is why Capita partnered with the Institute of Customer Service to produce a comprehensive piece of research exploring current attitudes to AI.

New research ‘The Heart of Artificial Intelligence’, conducted by The Institute of Customer Service and proudly co-sponsored by Capita, gathered opinion from consumers, organisations and employees within the customer service sector to gain an invaluable insight into perceptions and opinions on the use of technology.

It has uncovered some revealing insight into current attitudes, including:

  • Most UK customers would rather speak to a person than an intelligent robot, and 82% believe that organisations should make it transparent when an interaction is not with a person.
  • Nearly half of UK customers would be put off contacting an organisation if they had to speak to a chatbot first. However, 22.4% of customers said that this would make no difference to their relationship with the organisation.

  • 40% of employees believe that artificial intelligence has made the customer experience better. Just 4.2% believe it has made the customer experience worse.

Crucially, the report finds that most employees are excited by the potential of AI and the impact it could have on their jobs, but are wary about how much trust should be placed in technology at the expense of human interaction. This is at the crux of everything we must do if we are to successfully navigate the AI revolution.

As an industry we clearly have to work on how we position technological advances in customer experience. The results show that people may be put off by dealing with a robot over a human – we have to get in to the detail of why that is and communicate appropriately.

Technology for technology’s sake is never going to delight customers or improve their experience. Capita’s value is in using our knowledge and expertise in areas such as this to optimise the customer experience.

And as Capita Customer Management looks to invest in our technological capabilities in line with Capita’s new strategy, the research highlights how important it is to ensure these capabilities blend with our people. Human interaction can never be completely replicated or replaced by AI and that’s a balance we will always work to, to ensure we get right.

Ultimately, the results are encouraging for Capita. We have spent considerable time in implementing customer management operations that allow the skills of our agents to come to the fore, enabled by value-adding technology.

Read ‘The Heart of Artificial Intelligence’ executive summary (pdf)

To download the full research, visit the Institute of Customer Service website.

Photo of Mike Barnard

Mike Barnard

Executive officer, Capita Customer Management

Mike Barnard is executive officer for our Customer Management division which provides market leading contact centre, data, analytics and digital services to prestigious UK brands such as O2, Samsung, BBC, John Lewis, M&S, BMW, British Gas and Dixons Carphone. He is also responsible for support operations in the UK, Poland, India and South Africa, across the Utilities, Retail, Financial Services and Telecoms/Media sectors. Prior to joining Capita in March 2012, Mike was director of business and people transformation at Cable&Wireless Worldwide. Before this, Mike worked at The Boston Consulting Group as a management consult.

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