Consumers Really Want a Great Chatbot Experience. Brands Just Need to Give it to Them

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According to the recently released 2016 Aspect Consumer Experience Index research, 71 percent of consumers want the ability to solve most customer service issues on their own which is up 7 points from the 2015 index. It’s clear that consumer desire to actually talk to companies is dropping and has been for the past several years. One of the primary reasons for this is the growing preference for self-service transactions and interaction via text, mobile and messaging. In fact, 65 percent of consumers feel really good about both the company and themselves when they are able to answer a question or solve a problem related to that company without having to talk with a customer service agent. That’s up eight points from a year ago.

A rapid means to conduct those self-service interactions is through chatbots and automated interaction such as on SMS and messaging apps. Aspect’s research shows a healthy and growing appetite for chatbots. Some of the key findings:

Consumers want them

Fifty percent of the people we surveyed said that they’d like to conduct all customer service interactions via text/chat/messaging.  Plus, 44 percent said that they would prefer to use a chatbot to do so. chatbot-stat-snap

Context and continuity

One thing consumers made clear in the survey is that if they do have an interaction with a chatbot, they want an easy way to connect with a live agent if they choose. Nearly all of them (88 percent) want an easy and seamless transition from chatbot to live person if the interaction becomes too complex. And 80 percent of consumers expect any previous interactions or transactions to be immediately known and available in an automated self-service customer service experience.

Men and Women have different expectations

According to the survey, women prefer simple transactions and interactions via chatbots such as getting basic information, confirming purchases, or checking product availability at a local store. Men on the other hand are more confident that they’ll have a successful outcome when conducting a complex interaction on a chatbot like getting an expert opinion or making a change to a purchase or travel booking.

Not all consumers are sold on chatbots

Interest and enthusiasm for automated brand interaction is high but still, some consumers are not quite ready. More than half those surveyed (60 percent) feel that automated interaction with a brand will probably end up providing the same frustrating experience that poorly designed self-service/IVRs do. The same number say that a chatbot will make companies feel lest human.

The key to avoiding creating impersonal, ineffective automated interactions is to start small. 70 percent of respondents feel that chatbots are best for simple to moderate transactions and interactions so start a chatbot out with providing basic company or product information and in-store product availability before branching out to advanced troubleshooting.

The majority of consumers surveyed (61 percent) feel that chatbots are here to stay. The key for brands is learning from the IVR sins of the past and make the experience connected, conversational, and ultimately, rewarding.