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AI can boost service for vulnerable customers

AI tools businesses can use to analyse consumer voice and reactions, while providing real-time feedback to customer service representatives.

Research shows disinformation about climate change is common online
Research shows disinformation about climate change is common online - Copyright AFP Daniel MIHAILESCU
Research shows disinformation about climate change is common online - Copyright AFP Daniel MIHAILESCU

Businesses can use artificial intelligence to identify and aid consumers who need extra help, according to a new review on the application of AI for the business community. This adds to the range of options for AI, where the technology represents a universal tool for increasing sales, optimizing efficiency, and interacting with customers.

The support from consumers application is based on new research from Texas McCombs. This explores another purpose for AI in business: to contribute to the social good.

Here AI can provide benefit by helping businesses better serve vulnerable consumers: anyone in the marketplace who experiences limited access to and control of resources.

According to Gizem Yalcin Williams, Texas McCombs assistant professor of marketing: “AI is widely recognized for its operational and financial benefits, but it also holds promise for harnessing social good and helping businesses adopt socially responsible practices.”

Williams co-devised an AI framework that businesses can use to identify vulnerable consumers, address their specific needs, and mitigate potential discrimination and inequalities.

Importantly Williams presents vulnerability as an ongoing condition and with vulnerability in a dynamic state that can come and go. Cognitive and physical limitations can compromise a person’s judgment, but so can emotional distress, such as suffering a layoff, breakup, or death in the family.

Williams says: “With advancements in machine learning and natural language processing algorithms, AI is uniquely positioned to identify vulnerable consumers and to help employees better serve and empower these customers.”

By making customer service more accessible, more interactive, and more dynamic, Williams opines, AI can help vulnerable consumers improve their understanding of specific information so that they can make better decisions for themselves.

Citing an example, Williams finds there are already AI tools businesses can use to analyse consumer voice and reactions, while providing real-time feedback to customer service representatives, along with tips to improve the interaction.

How might AI be used to promote social good? One area is with risk assessment Recent reports indicate that customer service agents are often unaware when they interact with vulnerable consumers. But AI can perform real-time analysis of consumer chat responses and use cues to build a risk score for agents.

In such circumstances, when AI detects vulnerability, it can offer customer service agents customized tips and suggest special measures. For example, if a consumer shows signs of being overwhelmed or having trouble processing information, AI can recommend that agents explain options in simple terms, along with their pros and cons.

The research upon what this is based is published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, titled Deploying Artificial Intelligence in Services to AID Vulnerable Consumers”.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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