The pandemic could be a turning point for consumer trust in artificial intelligence

Ninety-four percent of Filipino consumers expect companies to accelerate their digital initiatives, according to “State of the Connected Customer 2020,” a report by customer relationship management (CRM) firm Salesforce released on October 29. COVID-19 drove this increase, with 88% saying that the pandemic elevated their expectations of digital capabilities.

“Regardless of who they market, sell, or provide service to, businesses are navigating a landscape they couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of this year… Connecting customers at various touch points—digital, human, or other—to gain a holistic understanding is the first step on the path to resiliency and growth,” said Vala Afshar, chief digital evangelist at Salesforce, in a press statement.

In the Philippines, more than 90% use messenger apps, e-mail, social media, and mobile apps to find out more about and connect with companies. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a potential growth area, as 60% of global consumers are open to its use in customer engagement. However, there is also an air of distrust around the use of AI, as less than half of global consumers trust companies to use it ethically.

This is a challenge for marketers as AI requires consumer information, often personal, in order to make responses and decisions. Sixty-three percent of global consumers feel that most companies aren’t transparent about how their personal information is being used. A further 61% also feel like they have lost control over how their personal information is used, up by 15% from the previous year.

An opportunity to assuage consumer doubt regarding artificial intelligence lies within the pandemic. Wanting to be part of the solution in the fight against COVID-19, 71% of respondents understand that providing their personal information helps contact-tracing efforts. Fifty-seven percent also expect to share their personal information so that they can return to their workplace and usual social settings.

“Should businesses, nonprofits, and governments seize this opportunity to demonstrate the immense good that can come from transparent, ethical use of personal information, it could mark a turning point in how customers view, manage, and share their data,” said Salesforce in the report.

The data from “State of the Connected Customer 2020” was collected between July 16 and August 18 of this year. Twelve thousand consumers and 3,600 business buyers from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia Pacific were interviewed, including 650 respondents from the Philippines. Furthermore, the interviewees were composed of four generations, namely baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials, and Gen Zers. — Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo

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