Brands risk backlash as consumers balk at AI stampede

tech 2Businesses worldwide are embracing the potential for artificial intelligence to provide personalised customer experiences, but customers remain sceptical, with data privacy and security concerns rife.

That is according to the fourth annual Twilio State of Personalisation Report, which shines a light on how businesses are experimenting with AI to differentiate and drive business growth, and provides guidance on how to get this right, starting with the critical need to raise consumer confidence in the technology.

To power even more sophisticated real-time customer experiences, businesses are turning to AI to harness high volumes of data, according to the report, which claims 92% of global businesses are now using AI-driven personalisation to drive business growth.

Four in five (81%) organisations also believe recent AI technology has the potential to positively impact customer experiences.

However, a disconnect exists between this enthusiasm and the comfort level of consumers, with only 36% of Europeans comfortable with companies using AI to personalise their experiences, and under half (49%) trusting brands to keep their personal data secure and use it responsibly.

AI-driven personalisation is only as good as its underlying dataset and, without robust data, customer experiences will likely miss the mark for consumers, Twilio maintains.

In fact, half (50%) of global companies report that getting accurate data for personalisation is a struggle, an increase of ten percentage points compared to 2022, and 31% of businesses cite poor quality data as a major obstacle in leveraging AI.

Further, four in ten (42%) European business leaders cited data silos as one of the biggest challenges to personalisation, compared to 26% globally.

Even so, almost all the companies surveyed (97%) are taking steps to address consumer privacy concerns, demonstrating a commitment to responsible data use. The most popular step is investing in better technology, such as customer data platforms, to manage customer data.

To maximise the potential of AI thoughtfully and responsibly, Twilio insists companies need to invest in data quality, leveraging effective, real-time data management tools and continuing to increase their use of first-party data.

Twilio customer engagement consultant Sam Richardson said: “AI has the potential to enhance the toolkit of every marketer and customer experience professional so they can meet growing customer demand for personalisation.

“However, there is still a lot of work to do for brands to reassure consumers and they must prioritise building trust and transparency. Real-time, first-party data will be key here for brands to maximise the potential of AI thoughtfully and responsibly.”

As digital natives, Gen Z are both more influenced by personalisation and more willing to embrace AI. In fact, a third of Gen Z consumers already expect AI to be used in their experiences with brands. For example, nearly three quarters (72%) of Gen Z consumers say that personalised experiences have influenced them to make a purchase. This compares to 66% of millennials, 57% of gen X and 42% of boomers.

Meanwhile, only 15% of Gen Z consumers report being uncomfortable with AI being used to help brands personalise their experiences. This is notably lower than millennials (24%), gen X (34%) and boomers (43%).

This year’s report underscores the value of an AI-driven personalisation strategy for brands looking to both retain existing customers and acquire new ones, especially in the competitive market.

Two-thirds (62%) of business leaders cite customer retention as a top benefit of personalisation, while a similar proportion (60%) say personalisation is an effective strategy for acquiring new customers. Consumers also increasingly confirm the value of personalisation, with over half (51%) of European respondents saying they will become repeat buyers after a personalised experience.

Richardson concluded: “There is a big opportunity for brands to build customer loyalty and lifetime value by engaging consumers with tailored experiences. And, ultimately, companies that provide a clear understanding of how customer data is being used will be best equipped to establish a strong foundation for successful personalisation efforts.”

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