As Mastercard launches AI, research suggests consumers prefer human interactions

Mastercard’s move to launch an artificial intelligence chatbot platform comes despite a new global study suggesting four out of five customers prefer human-based customer service.

Mastercard is launching an AI bot that will allow consumers to “transact and manage their finances” via messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger. The credit card brand will provide its merchant and bank partners with chat, messaging and natural language capabilities in order to communicate with consumers.

It said the bot system will provide consumers with “personalised service, seamless user experience and contextual offers and rewards”.

Kiki Del Valle, senior vice president for commerce at Mastercard’s Every Device division, explains: “At Mastercard, we believe that AI-driven conversations between companies and their customers can drive better customer experiences in places and platforms where consumers are more engaged.”

The bots will be “naturally embedded into consumers daily lives”, with Mastercard stating that the platforms will “help partners stimulate business interactions that are more conversational”.

The AI move follows Mastercard’s recent introduction of technology that uses biometrics to verify customer identification from selfie.

READ MORE: Mastercard confident consumers will use selfies to make payments

However, according to the new Digital Tipping Point report by Verint and IDC, Mastercard’s latest venture isn’t necessarily one that consumers will warm to.

Having polled 24,000 consumers across 12 countries, the research found four out of five (79%) people would prefer human customer interactions to remain part of customer service.

And although this is something Mastercard is hoping to change through the AI system, 67% of consumers and 91% of businesses do not feel the mobile and online services currently offered are fast enough or intuitive enough to serve users. Of the 1,019 businesses surveyed only 47% said they currently offer someone in-store to deal with complaints, with many thought to be relying on alternative communication methods such as web chat and email.

The study also found that the most popular way to contact organisations and providers is still phone, with 83% of consumers stating that speaking with a person will always be an important part of the customer service equation.

Dave Capuano, global vice president of integrated marketing at Verint, says: “As consumers become more digitally savvy, organisations are considering and even implementing more cost-effective digital channels as part of their evolving customer engagement strategies.

“However, the message from consumers is clear. They still want human touch as an option in many customer service scenarios.”

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