Saving time the biggest reason for using robot assistance

January 31, 2019 10:26
Consumers value human interaction but they also welcome the convenience brought by robots and artificial intelligence. Photo: Reuters

I fear that one day robots will take over our jobs and our lives, but I’m also happy to enjoy all the convenience brought by artificial intelligence (AI).

A recent survey showed that up to 75 percent of US consumers have used services offered by chatbots.

Among those who have not used such services, 60 percent said they won’t feel uncomfortable speaking with robots and 52 percent said they are happy to see the development of AI technology.

The survey results are not quite expected. Human interactions are critical, but consumers apparently put more value on convenience and getting simple tasks done.

About a third of the respondents said the main reason they are willing to speak to robots is to save time. Over 50 percent said they would rather talk to robots than humans if they could save 10 minutes.

According to the survey, assistance from robots is welcome in banking services such as checking account balances and account transaction details, as well as making reservations and changing flights.

Still, some companies worry that robots will drive away customers. But data clearly suggests otherwise. Only 1 percent of respondents said they do not want to speak to robots.

That does not mean corporates should stop hiring customer service staff. Instead, they should figure out how to combine human and robot services.

I’ve said on various occasions that the future competition is about the power of robots and the quality of data fed to robots.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 30

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Venture Partner of Sequoia Capital China, former head of the data committee and vice president at Alibaba Group.