Thought Leadership

Chatbots Strike a Chord With Consumers

Consumers are finding value in chatbots—those pop-up windows on websites and Facebook Messenger that offer a friendly (albeit artificial) face and a willingness to help.

Ask a chatbot (also known as a “virtual customer service agent”), “What time does your store close today?” and you should get a quick and accurate answer. But if you ask something more complex, such as “I need help setting up my home wi-fi,” more than likely, you’ll stump the ‘bot. At the very least, if the chatbot is configured well, it will know to pass you off to a human or promise a return call or email asap.

Today’s chatbot experience shows the technology still has a long way to go before it replaces contact center agents. But as with anything involving computing, expect chatbot help to get better and better as vendors of the technology refine their behind-the-scenes artificial intelligence.

A new report from 3Cinteractive (3C), a provider of mobile marketing services, takes a deep dive into consumers’ attitudes toward chatbots and how they reflect on the brands that use them.

3C found that more than a fourth of consumers use chatbots daily. Younger consumers, who may spend more time on Facebook and other social media platforms than others, interact more: 40 percent of Millennials surveyed said they interact with chatbots every day.

The takeaway is that chatbot use is expected to grow every year, and brands should be prepared to launch, test, and refine their chatbot strategy—if they haven’t already. A Business Insider report predicts that 80 percent of businesses plan to have chatbots in place by 2020.

Today, as one might expect with emerging technology, chatbots are still not capable of handling the majority of questions put to them. The 3C study found that 71 percent of consumers said that a chatbot that they’ve interacted with couldn’t answer their questions.

Still, more than 80 percent of respondents (and 90 percent of Millennials) said they would be loyal to a brand that offers a chatbot. So, the opportunity for brand loyalty is there to be seized by companies who can use chatbots effectively.

Study respondents shared the kinds of tasks for which they would prefer to use a chatbot over a human. These tasks include checking order status (46 percent chatbot vs. 38 percent human), and product research (42 percent chatbot vs. 39 percent human). Overall, respondents said they preferred the human touch for tasks such as customer service inquiries and making appointments or reservations, but chatbots picked up 37 percent of the vote for customer service inquiries and 41 percent for making appointments or reservations.

“Choosing the right chatbot strategy for your brand is critical; it’s not one size fits all,” said Margie Kupfer, vice president of marketing at 3C. “Understand your customer preferences and build your chatbot strategy around a specific function that benefits the customer. Starting small and executing your chatbot successfully ensures a positive brand experience and allows you to learn more about your customer in order to scale your chatbot into other business functions.”

Are you interested in learning more about how chatbots and other communication channels can deliver outstanding customer service through a contact center service provider like DATAMARK? Contact our contact center experts today.

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