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Chatbot Acceptance Rises, But Human Backup Still Preferred

1-chatbotsShoppers are getting accustomed to the idea of using of chatbots as a customer service tool, and some even prefer it, according to new research from Aspect Software Research.

In its online survey of more than 1,000 18- to 65-year-old U.S. consumers, 44% said that if a company could get the experience right, they would prefer to use a chatbot or automated experience for customer service. That’s up from the 40% who noted the same response in 2015. Other key findings include:

  • 65% of consumers feel good when they resolve a customer service issue without a live person — up from 57% in 2015;
  • 70% of respondents prefer to use chatbots to interact with companies for simple to moderate interactions and transactions; and
  • 69% say they use a chatbot or automated assistant at least once a month.

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“The accuracy and interaction quality of Intelligent assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo are driving consumer interest for similar experiences with the brands they do business with,” said Joe Gagnon, Aspect’s Chief Customer Strategy Officer in a statement. “This is no longer just a way for companies to reduce costs by handing simple and repetitive queries over to automated assistants. This is an opportunity for companies to satisfy a growing customer demand. But even though a large number of consumers now prefer using chatbots, they aren’t going to tolerate a substandard experience. The important thing is that companies who deploy automated interaction must provide an experience that is connected to the rest of the customer experience ecosystem.”

A chatbot experience, broadly defined as a self-service experience, creates good will with customers. More than 61% of consumers said chatbots allow simple to moderate requests to be handled more quickly. But more importantly, two thirds of consumers said they feel good about themselves and the company when they are able to answer a question or solve a problem by themselves, without the help of a customer service agent.

Another key survey finding is that brands that deliver automation in isolation risk alienating customers. An overwhelming number of consumers (88%) expect the context of their interaction on a chatbot to follow them as they transition to a live person. Delivering on this capability is essential because many respondents think automated assistance will end up giving them the same frustrating experience that antiquated Interactive Voice Response solutions did.

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