After months of working with an AI partner to develop machine learning tools you know will benefit your customers, it can feel disheartening when you're not seeing the adoption and engagement numbers you'd hoped for. Whether it's virtual chatbots trained to answer customers' questions 24/7 or self-checkout lanes meant to reduce their time spent waiting in line, you implemented these AI offerings to make your customers' lives easier—so why aren't they just as excited about it as you?
While it's true that AI is predicted to improve our quality of life by reducing the time spent on tedious tasks, many customers still have some serious qualms about machine learning technology. Namely, data security, our sense of autonomy, an absence of human interaction, and not being able to tell what's real and what's fake.
Still, the fact that AI is here to stay can't be ignored—nor can the benefits to businesses and their customers.
Here, Bailiwick offers five tips to turn your AI skeptics into converts.
Educate them. There's a chance your customers are already interested in engaging with your AI offerings, but they're unsure of where to start. "What I've experienced is that folks just want to know more, but it's overwhelming right now," says Jimmy Hinshaw, a retail technology and automation solutions expert for Bailiwick.
Take the time to teach your customers how to use your business's AI tools. One company that executes this particularly well is CLEAR, which uses biometrics to confirm your identity when going through security at airports, sports arenas, and event centers. Wherever you see a CLEAR kiosk, there's always an ambassador nearby to encourage enrollment, answer customer questions, and help people use the technology.
If your customers are worried about data privacy, now is an ideal time to also share the security measures your business is taking to protect their personal information.
Remove any friction. Before you roll out your latest AI offering, ensure you've done the proper testing to make adoption a seamless process. If your AI tools are clunky and difficult to use—like a tedious enrollment process or an app that keeps crashing, for example—customers simply won't engage with them, or they'll find another company that has implemented the technology better.
"Anywhere your customers experience friction can be detrimental to the business because they'll go somewhere else where they don't experience that friction," says Hinshaw.
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Offer incentives. Rewarding your customers is a great way to encourage them to engage with a new AI tool you're testing. Perhaps your retail shop is experimenting with palm recognition technology—already in effect at some Amazon and Whole Foods stores—that allows customers to pay for their items by scanning their palm. To encourage adoption, consider offering an incentive, like five percent off their purchase.
Start small. With customer-facing AI tools, slow and steady is the best practice to avoid overwhelming them. Start with a loyalty program, for instance, before expecting them to jump onboard with the aforementioned palm-pay technology. When in doubt, always keep business researcher Jim Collins's mantra in the back of your mind: Fire a bullet, then fire a cannon.
Don't break customers' trust. Imagine receiving a greeting card from a loved one whose words made you smile or laugh. How would you feel if you later found out those words were 100 percent written by a computer? You'd probably feel a bit betrayed. That's how Michelle Wolter, Bailiwick's vice president of sales and marketing, likens customers' feelings when they're misled about how a company is using AI. Transparency is crucial to keep your company from breaching a customer's trust. Be upfront about how you're using their information and the data security measures you're taking to protect it.
"You can't break the trust bond with a human because it takes incalculable and undefined amounts of time to regain it," says Wolter. "We're all looking at AI as it relates to how it is perceived in the human relationship so that we can honor the relationship, create value in the relationship, but not break the trust. That will look different for every company."