Retaining Human Connection in a World of AI (Fiona Lucas)

Fiona Lucas, Social Media & Online Community Strategist

As social media managers and community managers, we understand the importance of building relationships. Not just with clients, but with other stakeholders such as business partners, sponsors, local community groups and more.

AI provides the ability for fast responses to customer inquiries, prediction of their needs and offering recommendations based on the data it can process, however, it can be prone to inaccuracies and errors and may not pick up on customer distress. As more and more resources become available, which enable us to harness the power of AI, there is a potential risk that the ability to build strong relationships becomes diminished where there is a lack of human touch.

It all comes down to attention to detail and transparency. Making sure that where AI is used, such as for chatbots, it is clearly shown that the initial engagement is with a bot.

Where things are getting more complicated (and interesting) is the rise of the AI-generated actor (video). With a few clicks, a new “persona” can be generated, given a name, a country, and a voice. At this stage, generally, the voice used is not entirely natural. Pauses are not correct, and there is something missing (perhaps the fact that we take a breath in real life and AI doesn’t have that little nuance) that still appears mechanical.

It is perhaps too early to decide how quickly “digital beings” will be accepted, however, if we look at how the quality of chatbots has grown, then perhaps they will be accepted more readily. The ability to quickly create engaging video without the need for studios, paying actors and the amount of time saved will be a huge bonus for many businesses, however, it is important to make it clear that the video is not a real person.

When it comes to relationships, humans have the ability to connect to things that are not human. Apart from our pets which provide amazing therapeutic benefits to us, humans throughout history have connected to dolls, mannequins, and other humanlike but man-made creations. The movie “Her” made in 2013, explored the scenario of a human connecting with an AI-generated virtual assistant (voice only) that had the ability to evolve and the complexity when he starts to fall in love with the AI. Kind of heavy stuff, isn’t it?

The reason I mention this is that we need to be aware that there are a lot of ethical issues that need to be considered as AI evolves. The one thing we can do is to keep being very clear when something has been generated by AI.

Keeping this article focused on business use cases, we should think of AI as a tool that can help us to create content faster and address basic issues faster, but as AI cannot understand empathy, or look at individual situations as a human would when it comes to more complex issues, it is vital to keep an actual human somewhere in the chain of communication, logically, this would be at the end of a transaction; however, there may be cases for some interaction to “reset the goals” and guide a customer back onto an automated path.

A bad experience can damage brand reputation, which is why it is important not to “set and forget” when it comes to AI. You need to have a mix that will see you staying ahead of the back. Not long ago, I saw an email from Kate from Lately, and she made a statement that I loved. She said, “Ai alone = generic flimflam”, and she is right. AI-generated content on its own lacks the human touch and your thoughts.

In conclusion, while AI can be a useful tool for businesses to improve efficiency and automate routine tasks, it cannot replace the human touch that is essential in building strong relationships with customers. Businesses must be wary of an imbalance between automation and personalization by ensuring that human interaction remains part of the customer experience, particularly for complex issues.

When the balance is right, we can enhance customer relationships, improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, and potentially increase the bottom line.

There are a few simple ways to address this potential imbalance:

• Personalise Content: Ensure that we write in a way that reflects how we speak. Keeping a more personal tone, even within automated responses, maintains more of a “human” feel.

• Embrace social listening: Have a human moderator respond and refer to where relevant. Nothing is worse than a cut-and-paste automated response to comments (especially when you see the same response repeatedly in a thread).

• Use AI for repetitive tasks and make sure that tasks that require empathy and more personalized solutions are handed off to a human.

• Provide options such as being able to “opt-out” of automated responses.

• Monitor and respond to Reviews and Feedback – this is where we have a unique ability to respond directly and to learn.

This article was 100% written by a human

If you are looking to experiment with Ai, here are some of Fiona’s favorite tools to start with that have free options:

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Fiona Lucas* @communifi
Fiona Lucas is a highly regarded Australian-based Social Media & Online Community Strategist, Consultant, Mentor, Moderator, Speaker & Author. She is the founder of the 4Rs of Reputation with her business iRespectOnline. She believes in putting humanity first in all online engagements. She works with both small businesses and large corporations, developing innovative digital strategies for growth and engagement and helping them to humanize their brand. Through education and training, she assists business owners to authentically engage with their clients and prospects.

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