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How’s that, AI? 2017 will go down as the worst year ever for customer experience.

by Michael Maoz  |  June 28, 2017  |  1 Comment

AI does not make subway tracks run better in New York, or make phone queues any shorter at any airline. (yesterday: “Hold time currently is between 56 minutes and 1 hour 24 minutes. If you would like a call back…. or use our Website. Off to the website we go. Log onto site, put in all information, press Enter for results and…. “Oops! We’re sorry, but you have exceeded the maximum number of active sessions. #100527R.”

Now isn’t that the least helpful message, ever? Think about it: Oops! (did someone drop something?) We’re sorry (Who is we? Are you listening, watching, or monitoring?), but you have exceeded the maximum number of active sessions (ah, this is indeed a session we are having. My other sessions are US275 for 45 minutes, but at least they take notes). #100527R (Thank you, and I will use #100527R for my next call.)

Ah! But there is a chatbot. Or is it a Chat Agent, since it says “LIVE CHAT SUPPORT?” The AI-driven bot, or the human, has no idea that we are on the site, have failed to achieve our goal, or had already been directed to the site by the threat of needing to take the morning off to get a human to speak on the phone. Can anyone spell “Channel Islands of Obsolescence?” Or the acronym: CIO. Except that no CIO would ever, not one in 500 of them, be in the trenches to see this level of absurd customer treatment play out.

Back to the Chat Agent: We explain the issue we are having. The answer given is to read something on the website we’ve read already, and then we ask, demurely, ‘Are you a human?’ Since they seem incredibly unintelligent. The answer: “OK to reach a human it will need to be by calling reservations directly, we are here for navigational support.”

Aye Aye, Captain. And back to the same phone morass, like in Joyce, riverrun, past Eve and Adams, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to…. voice response damnation.

Yet these AI bots are your “Brand Ambassador!” Just read the HBR: ‘When AI Becomes the New Face of Your Brand.”

Just take care, because your AI might not be the customer’s idea of intelligent. It may come off as artificial, superficial, condescending, or insulting.

No picking on airlines. Not everyone can be as amazing as American Express Card Services, but at least listen to the customer the way that New Economy companies are. No need to repeat that the times are changing, and your competitor may have already executed on what, for you, is still platitudes.

A way forward: a much more tightly executed “Voice of the Customer” program to truly capture what the customer is experiencing from self service, humans, and AI – in concert or where there is a disconsonant view.

Category: ai  cio  crm  customer-engagement  customer-service  digital-experience  digital-humanism  empathy  innovation-and-customer-experience  leadership  

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on How’s that, AI? 2017 will go down as the worst year ever for customer experience.


  1. Devendra Nambiar says:

    Excellent article regarding AI and the challenges many companies will face, let alone their users/customers. If the use of technology is to improve services then there is a higher chance of it delivering, but it’s for the accountant and saving costs AI will make you pay.



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