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The Best AI is Now Free For Everyone: Revisiting Will Your Customers Use AI? (Thinks Out Loud)

Young person interacting with AI in their home

AI might be in the “trough of disillusionment” among some people but it’s far from dead. Not only have Google and OpenAI made amazing advancements to their tools in recent days, they’re making those tools available to most people for free, right now. As such, an increasing number of customers are using AI every single day. What’s even better is that most savvy marketers aren’t spending their time thinking about the artificial intelligence; they’re thinking about their customers.

That’s what you should do too.

Because AI isn’t what matters. Your customers are what matters. And AI only matters if your customers are willing to use it. So, will your customers use AI? If not, what’s keeping them from putting it to work? And, most importantly, how can you help them not only choose to use your AI tools, but also choose your business?

That’s what this episode of the Thinks Out Loud podcast is all about. Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.

The Best AI is Now Free For Everyone: Revisiting Will Your Customers Use AI? (Thinks Out Loud) — Headlines and Show Notes

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You might also enjoy this webinar I recently participated in with Miles Partnership that looked at "The Power of Generative AI and ChatGPT: What It Means for Tourism & Hospitality" here:

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Running time: 28m 12s

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Transcript: The Best AI is Now Free For Everyone: Revisiting Will Your Customers Use AI?

Well hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 418 of The Big Show. And I think we’ve got a really cool show for you today. I really appreciate you tuning in.

We’ve been doing a lot of episodes lately about artificial intelligence and how the technology might shape your business in the longer term. What I also want to do is I want you to remember that this is a marketing podcast, first and foremost. Marketing is always about people, not technology.

I think AI is so cool. I’m the one who decides what we talk about every single week. So clearly, artificial intelligence has been top of mind for me and for a lot of other people for the last bunch of months. At the same time, it’s really important to talk about how people are using AI, how your customers are using AI, and what that might mean for your business.

Because all of the technology in the world is only cool and only matters if your people use it, if your customers use it, if your team uses it. So, I thought it’d be a good time today to talk about where are we with in terms of customers? Will your customers use AI? Do your customers use AI? And the answer to that question is they are using AI, at least to some degree.

It doesn’t really matter if you’re talking a B2B context or a B2C context, so business to business or business to consumer. Your customers are using AI today. That’s obviously true if they’re using Google to do search, or if they’re using any number of Microsoft products, or if they’re using things like Salesforce, or HubSpot, or Adobe, or LinkedIn, or, you know, autocorrect on their phones, or… well, you get the idea.

AI is increasingly baked into many of the products, many of the services, many of the tools that your customers use every single day. And as I’ll get to in a minute, we should expect to see a lot more of that in the coming months. What’s also true is that most people don’t think they use AI very much at all.

Data from Pew Research shows that about 50 percent of Americans say they use artificial intelligence less than once per week. Another Pew Research report shows that only 23 percent of Americans have tried ChatGPT ever. If we want to flip that on its head, obviously that means that 77 percent of Americans have never, ever used ChatGPT.

And I’ll tell you more in a minute on why that matters. By the way, I, I hope you’ll pardon the provincialism here. I’m using U.S. only research at the moment. I know we’ve got a fair number of listeners all around the world, and I wanted to say thank you so much for listening. At the moment, though, I just don’t have a great source for this data outside the U.S. so that’s why I’m sticking with U.S. data for right now.

One of the things that appears to be true is that use of AI is more regular and more common among younger and wealthier and more educated consumers. And that’s even more true at work, according to data from the conference board, where we see more than half of all users are using AI at least once a week.

So, if your question is, are my customers using AI, you know, your customers, it really comes down to who your customers are. If they’re younger, wealthier, more educated, then they are using AI regularly at work and in their personal lives. If they’re older, if they’re less wealthy, if they’re less educated, then either they’re not using AI regularly. Or, in the case of artificial intelligence helping power Google Search, then it’s more likely that they’re not aware how regularly they may be using artificial intelligence.

We care about this because customer behaviors are ultimately what drive our business, right? We can try to influence customer behaviors as much as we can, and we do, but people behave the way they tend to behave.

And the behavior that we’re seeing from the less frequent user, least frequent users rather, excuse me, strikes me as the most likely long term reality for everybody. I’ve talked on this show many times about how technology becomes invisible. It’s the default state for technology after a certain period of adoption.

You’ve heard me use this example plenty of times, how on the original Star Trek, the doors on the ships automatically slide open and closed. That used to be science fiction. Now you see it in every store you go to. That’s true, by the way. Before Star Trek, that wasn’t a thing. I’d ask you, how much internet bandwidth do you use in a given month?

I suspect most people have no idea. I know that I don’t, actually, and I do this for a living. I suspect if it wasn’t for the fact that you pay your electric bill every month, I’m going to go out on a limb and say most people don’t think at all about the amount of electricity they use in a given week or month.

And when you do, I suspect it’s only because you know the amount of the bill, not the actual usage in watts or current or anything like that. So why should we think using AI will be any different? I’ve also talked in past episodes about the thousands of AI focused applications and companies that MarTechMap has catalogued.

So you’re a marketer, you’re using marketing technology in some part of your job. There’s AI baked into many of those tools, and it’s coming for all the ones that it’s not already in, right? And I suspect if you’re like most users, you couldn’t care less if those tools use AI or not. You care about whether the tool helps you do your job effectively.

How it does it under the hood isn’t really that relevant, or really, isn’t really that important. And that’s why I’m reasonably confident that’s where we’re going to end up in the longer term with artificial intelligence. I talked about this on last week’s show where we’re seeing people enter the trough of disillusionment. Not because they’re disillusioned with AI, but they’re disillusioned with the value that they’re getting from it.

People don’t care about AI, they care what it does for them. And that leads to the next question you want to think about, which is, what do your customers think about AI? Do they trust AI? And the answer, again, looking at the Pew Research, as well as some others that I’ll link to in the show notes, more or less is, not really.

And I think this is partly because so many people haven’t spent much time hands on with AI that they’re not really sure of what it can and can’t do. When we think about the fact that more than three quarters of Americans have never used ChatGPT once, they’re not going to be particularly trusting of it.

They’re not going to have a particular understanding of what it can and can’t do for them. Now that may change. OpenAI has opened up ChatGPT that you can now use it without an account. But we know that people are probably concerned about what it means for their careers, despite evidence that, at least according to the Census Bureau, AI mostly isn’t taking jobs.

Still, they’re concerned. And until your customers have more exposure and more experience with AI, they’re likely to remain distrustful. They’re likely to remain concerned. This is so normal, by the way. We saw this with the internet, too. I remember going through this when people were first exposed to the internet.

They weren’t really sure if it was something that they could trust. And, if my history is correct, the same thing happened when computers first came along. My wife and I love this old Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movie called Desk Set that came out in 1957. Spencer Tracy’s character has created a computer that’s also a search engine and installs it in Katharine Hepburn’s department at the corporation where she works.

And hilarity and romance ensue. Now, the reason I’m bringing this up is because now, apart from the fact that the film is delightful and you might enjoy it, is because Katharine Hepburn and her team, for most of the movie, are terrified at the prospect that this new machine is going to replace them and take their jobs away.

One of the characters even says, well, if we do get canned, we won’t be the only ones to lose our jobs because of a machine. Sound familiar? Right? By the way, there’s a line I love in the movie. This is a complete aside, but I hope you get a kick out of it. Katharine Hepburn’s character, Bonnie Watson, says she finds the machines and I quote, Frightening.

Gave me the feeling that maybe, just maybe, people were a little bit outmoded. And Spencer Tracy with a total deadpan expression replies wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they stopped making them. Ha ha ha, classic. I mean, but notice The same concerns again and again. This movie is almost 70 years old, but the concerns of the characters and the people, people just like you and me and your customers, make it still feel relevant today.

This is a dialogue we’ve been having for a long, long, long time. So that leads me to the most important questions you should be thinking about, which are, how are you going to use AI in your business, and how are you going to help your customers trust you that you’re using it well? I’ve addressed the first question in a ton of past episodes.

Check out the show notes in this show and I’ll provide links to many you can check out. I’m going to spend all of our remaining time together on the second question. Notice that as part of that question I didn’t ask, How are you going to help your customers trust the artificial intelligence? I asked, how are you going to help customers trust you and how you use it?

Why? Because, as I said a little bit ago, if you do it right, your customers don’t care whether you’re using AI or not. They care what it does for them. It’s about how you help them trust you. My friend Mark Schaefer has great advice about this that are words to live by right now that just echo in my skull repeatedly that say the most human company wins.

And that is so right. I teach a class for Rutgers Business School Executive Education called Personalized Digital Experiences. www. RutgersBusinessSchool. com And in that class, we talk a lot about A, collecting data from your customers, and B, using that data to improve customer experience and how you do it the right way.

One of the keys to doing those tasks effectively is staying away from what’s known as the creepy line. You know what the creepy line is, of course. It’s when companies do things that are creepy. They creep you out. For instance, if your favorite clothing retailer showed you something on their website or app that said, Here are some recommendations for pants and shirts you might like based on past purchases.

That’s generally not creepy. If they said instead, Wow, the size of clothing you’re buying sure has changed a lot suddenly. Are you eating properly? Right? I think we’d all agree that would be pretty creepy. Even if it’s intended to be helpful, it’s still so not cool. Now, there are four ways to avoid the creepy line that apply equally well to artificial intelligence.

The first of these is think big mother, not big brother. This idea comes from Forrester Research’s Julie Ask, and it is great, amazing, perfect framing. Think about if you’re using AI to make better experiences for your customers, or are you using it just because you can, just because you can do something cool.

The first of those is generally okay. Think The second of those might lead you towards doing things creepy because you’re not thinking about the customer, you’re thinking about the technology. Second, have a devil’s advocate. Have someone on your team whose bonus is based on stopping you from doing creepy stuff.

If everyone on your team’s bonus and salary and, oh, I don’t know, continued employment depends on doing something that veers towards creepy, I’ll give you one guess which choice they’re going to make. If instead, someone on the team is actively rewarded for pushing back on potentially creepy choices, you know, maybe a lawyer, maybe a programmer, maybe a business leader, someone with strong critical thinking skills, who’s thinking about the customer first and foremost, It minimizes the risk that you’ll do creepy stuff.

It will keep you away from the creepy line. Also, test. Third thing, test. Don’t be afraid to start with small scale tests. Start with a small audience. Start with a small task. Try that. Learn what works and what doesn’t. And then scale up over time to more tasks or more audiences or both. Fourth, and finally, Be transparent.

Don’t be afraid to let customers know how you’re using AI, why you’re using it, and how it benefits them. Offer them something like a frequently asked question and page. And if possible, and not always possible, but if you can, some way to opt out, so that if they’re not ready, they’re not forced to do this.

Let them know any actions you’re taking to mitigate risks to them and risks to your business. Microsoft The more we shine light on the benefits of AI and the benefits that it offers to our customers, the more likely it is that our customers will trust it, and by extension, trust you. So the key points you want to remember is that your customers are using AI at least some of the time.

That’s true in both B2B and B2C. The younger, wealthier, and more educated they are, the more they use and accept the tool. And the older, less wealthy, and less educated they are, the less they use AI, or at least the less they think they do. There is still a fair amount of mistrust around AI usage, and that mistrust is a normal part of technology adoption.

We’ve seen this before. Your job is to help your customers trust not only your use of AI, but your company overall as well. Keep Mark Schaefer’s immortal words, the most human company wins, front and center for you. You can help them trust you more by A, thinking big mother, not big brother, B, working with a devil’s advocate, C, testing to see what works, and D, offering transparency around how you’re using AI.

Your customers want the benefits artificial intelligence offers. That’s why they’re using it today. Your competitors are using AI in many cases to help provide those benefits. This is increasingly becoming table stakes. You can use AI too, but keep your focus on being human. Keep your focus on your customer.

Because customers ultimately want to work with people and companies they trust. If you do that, if you keep the focus on your customer, they won’t just keep coming back because of the AI. They’ll keep coming back because of you.

Show Wrap-Up and Credits

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week.

And I want to remind you again that you can find the show notes for this episode. As well as an archive of all past episodes by going to Again, that’s Just look for episode 418.

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Show Outro

Finally, and I know I say this a lot, I want you to know how thrilled I am that you keep listening to what we do here. It means so much to me. You are the reason we do this show.

You’re the reason that Thinks Out Loud happens every single week. So please, keep your messages coming on LinkedIn. Keep hitting me up on Twitter, sending things via email. I love getting a chance to talk with you, to hear what’s going on in your world, and to learn how we can do a better job building on the types of content and community and information and insights that work for you and work for your business.

So with all that said, I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day, I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, and I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as always, take care, everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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