Skip to main content

Artificial Intelligence and Customer Expectations


Artificial Intelligence has long been considered an “up-and-coming” technology that would wow customers by adding new and exciting features to products and services. As I sit here at a conference with more than 4,500 business professionals from all industries, learning how AI will improve their customers’ experiences, I realize I don’t fully agree with that statement.

AI is already integrated into our lives so deeply that it’s now a “must-have” for businesses and agencies – a fundamental expectation for every interaction.  So in some ways, the perspective on AI has flipped – from something that could delight customers if present to something that can turn them off in a second if it’s missing. And if companies delay deploying AI, it becomes a “dissatisfier” that will lead to low net promoter scores and untimely customer churn.

Just last week while travelling on business, I arrived at my hotel pretty late. I had already checked-in on my mobile app so I was expecting to scan in and go to my room.  I walked up to the mobile check-in sign and start tapping to get my key. But after several attempts, I finally realized it wasn’t an interactive sign.  As I stood there completely exhausted and embarrassed for assaulting a sign, the late-shift front desk staff came around the corner.  I smiled and got checked into my room, still showing my identification and credit card the old way.

Honestly, inside, I was annoyed.  I knew I would be getting in very late and wanted a quick and automated experience, but that didn’t happen.  The company implemented mobile check-in to delight customers, but the opposite happened because it wasn’t fully operational end-to-end.

I see the same thing in the banking industry.  I won’t use credit cards unless they are fully integrated with mobile alerts and spend tracking.  I enjoy the benefits of belonging to a credit union. But I won’t make it my primary banking relationship, because the credit union doesn’t have a user-friendly mobile app or mobile check deposit.  These things are now the norm and represent expectations in the everyday course of business.

My daughter is 16 and now driving. I obtained a credit card for her to get gas and to make sure she has money. But her response to me was, “Why do I need this? I have Apple Pay.”  I explained that Apple Pay is not fully integrated everywhere and her response was simple: “I just won’t go places where they don’t have it.”

So, as I look around this large room of business leaders making decisions to improve their organizations with AI, I hope they feel a sense of urgency. The data demands it – consider that some estimates suggest that only 4 percent of customers actually contact a company when they have a problem. The other 96 percent just move on without a word. Customers have choices. They expect you to know them and get it right. The first time.