Study: Chatbots rule customer service efforts

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Automated interaction is increasingly preferred by digital shoppers — and demand is increasing.

Specifically, 44% of shoppers said that if a company could get it right, they would prefer to use a chatbot or an automated assistant for customer service interaction — up four points from the 2015 survey. Half of them said that they would rather conduct all brand interaction via text/messaging, with 39% saying the digital-first methods are more effective than talking.

These are some of the findings of the “2016 Aspect Consumer Experience Index” from Aspect, a technology provider of cloud-based contact center and workforce optimization solutions. The firm surveyed 1,000 American consumers to investigate the attitudes, preferences and behaviors regarding customer touchpoints and engagement within the specific context of self- service, specifically regarding “intelligent assist” and “chatbots.”

A chatbot experience, broadly defined as a self-service experience, creates good will with customers, the report said. For example, 61% of shoppers said chatbots will allow simple to moderate requests to be handled faster. 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.

“This is no longer just a way for companies to reduce costs by handing simple and repetitive queries over to automated assistants,” said Joe Gagnon, Aspect’s chief customer strategy officer.

“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,” he added. “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.”

However, many brands still do deliver automation in isolation — which puts them at risk of alienating customers. For example, 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 is essential because a good number of respondents think automated assistance will end up giving them the same frustrating experience that antiquated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions did, the study said.


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