You’re lost in the city. So you pull out your smartphone and say, “Hey Siri,” or “Ok Google.” Suddenly, an unintentional chain reaction occurs. You hear a succession of little pings, beeps, and responses from the pockets of passerby. A businessman is startled by the interruption. A couple on a Tinder date nearby must take a moment to silence their phones. An elderly woman looks confusedly at the phone that has begun to talk back to her.
This is just one example of how artificial intelligence, or AI, has pervaded our daily lives. It is convenient for a lot of things, like getting directions, checking the weather, or finding out what sound a moose makes. While AI makes those parts of life more convenient, when it comes down to it, do we really trust it?
There are some things robots and computers just can’t do. Or at least that’s what we used to think. Now, it seems like AI is taking over, even in the business world. But can it really take over everything? Even sales? Even CRM? Is a computer capable of making managing customer relationship?
Well, some companies would argue that the benefits of AI outweigh the negative consequences; However, there is more evidence that shows sales AI simply cannot replace or out-perform bonafide, human salespeople. And it certainly cannot be trusted to do all that sales work requires.
Artificial Intelligence Learns, But Not That Fast.
Most sales AI uses what is called “pattern based predictive analytics” to decide what to do next. This can become a trial-and-error sort of process if any interaction or information is outside of the computer’s base knowledge. This means that AI is more prone to mistakes than we would like to think.
For example, Google maps doesn’t have trouble telling you where to go because it already has knowledge of all of the roads, which is also constantly being updated. But Google’s automated driverless car had its first accident because it didn’t “know” that a bus was less likely to give way in traffic than a car.
AI is trained to recognize patterns, and then react according to those patterns. So if there is a pattern the AI does not recognize, it quickly becomes useless or resorts to an obnoxious feedback loop.
Imagine when you call someplace like your cable company, bank, or insurance company, and get a computer on the other line. The computer knows how to respond to certain phrases, but if you need something outside of that or the computer can’t understand you, you end up just calling different numbers until you finally get in touch with a person.
Sales AI works similarly, and can “get smarter with practice” as it recognizes situations, but if it is faced with an unfamiliar interaction, its reaction is unpredictable and often frustrates the customer.
Sales Ai Can’t Read Context Clues
AI can track data and act accordingly, but bots aren’t good at reading the room. So much of communication relies on very subtle context cues, and those cues can provide a lot of information as you interact with customers.
AI is not very great with tone of voice, for example. It tends to be monotone, so that even if the customer gets frustrated, there is no attempt on the other end to calm their nerves and save the sale. If the customer is excited about the product, AI can’t truly share in the enthusiasm. The transmission of emotion is just not there.
As an individual, you can react to your customer in real time according to their needs in the moment. Perhaps they need a calming tone as you provide customer support. Maybe the confidence in your voice assures them that yes, this company does know what it is doing.
Sales Ai Can’t Build Trust
While we trust Siri to give us directions or tell us the weather, the majority of us would probably not say that we have a relationship with Siri. She doesn’t truly care for us as humans, she just does what she has been programmed to do. She doesn’t empathize with us.
Fortunately, humans don’t operate that way. Humans are capable of immense empathy that AI consistently lacks. Thanks to that empathy, humans are much more capable of building positive relationships with clients than any form of AI. For that reason, we’re more likely to trust a human than a computer in a sales situation.
Positive interactions with companies are what keep clients coming back. That’s why so many successful companies have incentives and programs for staff that get positive customer feedback. It’s the old “employee of the month” trick. Humans have incentive in this process. AI doesn’t have any personal stock in the interaction, meaning it has no motivation to actually make the sale.
Human Intelligence > Artificial Intelligence
In this futuristic, increasingly dystopian world we live in, AI is capable of many things. But it simply can’t compete with the human touch. Humans still have the upper hand, as they can react quickly in unpredictable circumstances, communicate in a wider variety of contexts, and make true connections with customers that develop over time.
In this world of computers, it’s a relief to speak to a person once in a while.