Might be a while before someone orders from a reseller with Alexa

Personal assistants are gaining traction as yet another way customers can order services but concerns about data integrity are holding back widespread adoption

The channel is being told that it needs to improve customer experience and adopt the latest technology to help users interact with the business.

But the adoption of AI and bots and by extension links with personal assistants in homes and offices needs to be done carefully because of the high levels of distrust that some customers have around that technology.

Research from Maintel has uncovered concerns from users around data integrity with the use of personal assistants, which is the next frontier for those trying to reach customers on every available platform.

The managed services specialist found that data protection was a key concern, with almost half of customers (47%) pointing to that factor as a hurdle too high for them to use a personal assistant as a way of contacting a reseller. Fears of the data being hacked were paramount in a significant number of minds.

Not only is a degree of the customer base wary of the emerging technology but Maintel also found that almost half of consumers (46%) have no intention of using smart voice channels to contact a service provider.

Rufus Grig, chief technology officer, Maintel, said that the development of virtual assistants via smart devices was "inevitable".

“With so many mixed feelings towards this issue, there is a clear call to action for companies to be transparent with consumers on the implications of using this technology and to implement virtual assistants in a responsible way so that consumers’ data is protected," he said.

"Whilst companies are reluctant to talk openly about security issues, there is clearly work that needs to be done before this technology is welcomed into all UK households. For now, virtual assistants aren’t the ultimate solution and should be used alongside other customer service technology solutions such as call centres, websites and chat bots," he added.

The Maintel research has come out at a time when it's Customer Service Week and the idea of giving users a positive experience is being promoted.

But even with all of the technology available those in the industry operating in this market are continuing to stress the importance of human interaction.

“In the fast-paced competitive world that we live in many consumers have high expectations of the service that they want to receive. Customer service can act as a differentiator for many organisations today and something that many consumers will consider paying extra for if they can receive a better service," said Jeremy Payne, VP at Enghouse Interactive.

"Consistency is a main challenge that organisations face when delivering great customer service. In efforts to maintain consistency many organisations turn to technology such as robots, AI and advanced automation to assist," he added "Within the contact centre environment this technology balanced with a human approach to provide empathy and sympathy when handling complaints and customer frustrations can enable organisations to provide excellent customer service in their call centres in an affordable, personalised and scalable way.”

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