Chatbots and AI have become ‘buzzwords’ in the technology and customer experience world. Some organisations believe these technologies have a future and will revolutionise the way we interact with customers. Others believe they will a nominal impact, or they will need to be policed with the advent of new data protection regulation.
What do consumers think of chatbots and AI? Many consumers have already had a taste of chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI), but there is still a gap when it comes to understanding and accepting its applications.
Along with personalised insights and automated processes, the rise in AI has also brought a disconnect with it. A recent study of over 1,000 consumers by PointSource revealed that when AI is present, 49% of consumers are willing to shop more frequently and 34% will spend more money.
The report, the Finding Common Ground Between Consumers and Artificial Intelligence, uncovers what’s standing in the way of consumer acceptance as companies make increasing investments in deep learning technology. The survey found that while 90% of consumers feel that companies are prepared to best use chatbots, over half (54%) say they would still rather to talk to a customer service representative.
“Services like recommendations from Amazon and Facebook Ads, have done a good job of warming people up to the idea of AI in their everyday lives – normalizing it through seamless digital experiences that ultimately take place beneath the surface without the user realising it,” says Barry Pellas, chief technology officer at PointSource and vice president of technology, for the AI Studio.
“However, this has also created a gap in how consumers understand the technology. Businesses are investing millions of dollars in AI and chatbot technology with the goal of improving the customer experience. But all that effort is useless if the consumer doesn’t understand it. When engaging with our clients, we make sure to incorporate our clients throughout the entire digital development process, from discovery to implementation so that we can get information about end-users from those who know them best. As chatbots continue to be incorporated into digital experiences, businesses can serve as a bridge between consumers and a better understanding of chatbots so that those AI investments are valuable to the end user and business.”
Factors holding consumers back
Consumers have a selective memory when it comes to chatbots and AI experience, choosing to remember the bad experiences more vehemently than good ones. In fact, just 16% of people say they’re extremely satisfied with their previous chatbot experiences. Privacy/security, speed and friction tend to be top concerns that prevent consumers from moving forward with chatbot devices:
- 41% of consumers are concerned with data security and privacy. This number drastically spikes when highly sensitive information is involved.
- If a customer is on hold with a customer service representative, 34% of customers want to switch to a chatbot after five minutes have passed. However, 59% get frustrated if a chatbot doesn’t resolve their inquiry in that same time frame.
- 51% of consumers are concerned that chatbots won’t understand what they’re looking for, and 44% are unsure about the accuracy of the information provided by the chatbot.
Despite the concerns consumers have with chatbots and AI, given certain guarantees, consumers would be more comfortable using the technology. For instance, 39% of consumers say a clearer understanding of how businesses use their information would make them more comfortable using chatbots. In addition to transparency in the information gathering process, consumers want the information that they do give to be advantageous. The report revealed that another 39% would be more comfortable using chatbots if there are guarantees of accurate and up-to-date information.
Humans vs AI
When the thought of chatbots arises, many people assume that it means the end of human involvement. However, the report revealed that humans still play a very important role in the success of chatbots. Half (49%) of consumers would feel better about using a chatbot if they had the assurance that they could escalate their interactions to humans if necessary. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with more sensitive information. For example, 80% of consumers would prefer to speak to a human when they’re providing or receiving medical information from their healthcare providers.