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Be yourself: Over-reliance on AI is akin to catfishing

The corporate catfisher uses AI to impress online in a way that cannot be supported in reality

AI Reuters/Steve Marcus
Companies that over-leverage AI to impress customers could come a cropper

The arrival of artificial intelligence and its integration into businesses has been nothing short of revolutionary. From automating routine tasks to generating well-written content, AI has proven its value-add and ability to save time. 

Algorithms can analyse data, predict trends and streamline decision-making, leading to more efficient outcomes. AI increases productivity, with an average 14 percent boost in issues resolved per hour, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

Answering simple task-related questions using ChatGPT is slowly taking over search platforms like Google. And AI chatbots and virtual assistants provide instant and personalised customer support, which has improved user experiences.

A new class of professional has been borne out of the need to understand the way AI functions and to mitigate negative outcomes. 

However, some businesses have fallen into the trap of “content catfishing” — adopting the looks and persona of another person or entity.

The catfishers use AI to make good online first impressions but they know the reality will not support them in person. 

As with online dating, we now only really know and trust the level of expertise of our stakeholders, partners and colleagues through meeting in person and through first hand experience.

The lack of trust in AI versus human-generated content has even filtered into my personal life – leading me on one occasion to question the authenticity of my 12-year-old daughter’s school poetry composition.

While AI has many benefits, businesses must exercise caution and ethical responsibility when using the technology.

Companies that leverage AI to craft compelling introductions, luring customers with promises and perfectly written, personalised communications, can come a cropper. Reality hits home when businesses fail to deliver on promises. 

Customers are quickly disillusioned when they realise the business they are hoping to work with is less than capable.

Dubai is relatively small and risks to reputation are great. It can be difficult for clients to trust again, when they have had one bad experience. Customers may feel misled, damaging a brand’s reputation and that of other service providers. 

So instead of relying solely on AI-generated content, businesses should identify cases where AI complements rather than replaces human efforts. AI can free up employees to focus on complex issues.

Use AI to enhance customer support but ensure human intervention is readily available when required.

Be upfront about the use of AI-generated content in customer interactions. Customers appreciate transparency, and honest communication builds trust.

In a melting pot of culture, language and diversity like Dubai, I recognise the potential of ChatGPT, especially for smaller companies which wish to appear proficient in business language.

First impressions are important and an initial email has powerful implications. 

I can share a recent example of a stakeholder in the British Business Group who excels in the service they provide.

But, by their own admission, their written English is weaker than that of their competitors.

I was impressed when I received a press release announcing a recent development – and my first thought was they had hired a PR agency because of the quality of the writing and the template used. 

I was corrected when the stakeholder told me they had used AI to produce the release – specifically ChatGPT. 

I was positive in my response but, had this been at the start of a business relationship, I may have had trust issues about their overall competence.

By incorporating AI into business strategies, while preserving genuine human connections, companies can achieve sustainable growth and build strong, lasting relationships with customers.

In the spirit of the transparency, this article was first drafted using ChatGPT in close collaboration with a BBG member PR firm.

We based the piece on the term which I was using regularly myself – ‘content catfishing’. It was then reviewed and personalised by me.

Did it save me time? A little. Did I feel entirely comfortable through the process? Not really! The end result is still 85 percent me.

Katy Holmes is general manager of the British Business Group in Dubai

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