Uberall, Inc. released new data on how customers feel about interactions with chatbots. A chatbot is a “chat robot” designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the internet. Chatbots are available on chat platforms such as Facebook Messenger or Slack, as well as voice assistants (Alexa, Siri, etc.), SMS and mobile apps, and are typically used to encourage engagement, answer questions, or stimulate sales on B2B and B2C brand websites.
For the study, Uberall commissioned a survey of more than 1,000 adults throughout the U.S. Here’s a closer look at what they found.
40% are interested in chatbot experiences from brands
Respondents were asked about their level of interest in chatbot experiences from major brands. Forty percent said they were interested with 20% of those saying they were very interested in interacting with the AI. However, 30% of consumers had a tepid response to chatbots, saying they were somewhat uninterested, and 29% indicated no interest at all.
“There’s definitely growing interest in branded chatbot experiences, but most consumers still need convincing,” said Florian Huebner, Co-CEO and Co-Founder. “Many are wary, either because chatbot technology in the past was not advanced enough to ensure a good experience, or because consumers worry chatbots could easily become another spam channel. Brands have to do a better job creating AI experiences that customers find personalized, helpful and worthwhile.”
80% have had a positive experience with chatbots
The good news is some brands appear to be getting it right. Despite ambivalence about chatbots in general, 80% of people who have interacted with a chatbot say the experience was generally positive. In fact, 14% of respondents called the chatbot interaction “very positive.” Just 16% said that their experience was “somewhat negative” while only 4% reported a “very negative” experience.
“Most people who’ve used chatbots have had some positive experiences, which is great news. It speaks to consistent improvements in the underlying technology, and the power of familiarity,” Huebner said. “What this means for marketers is that once consumers actually try a branded chatbot, the experience can usually be worth it. It seems the challenging part is convincing them to adopt in the first place.”
36% of consumers think chatbot accuracy needs to improve
Chatbots do have some opportunities to grow, however—particularly in the areas of artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP). When asked what elements of chatbots needed improvement, a plurality of respondents said chatbots need to work on their accuracy in understanding what customers are asking or looking for (43%). Other areas cited for improvement included the ability of customers to get “a human customer rep involved where needed” (27%), “ability to hold a more ‘human’-sounding, natural conversation” (19%) and “I’d like to see more of them b/c there just aren’t many opportunity to use chatbots” (10%).
“If a chatbot is struggling to address a consumer’s questions, it can be exponentially more frustrating than trying to be understood by a human. A few interactions like this will pollute their perception of the technology,” said Huebner. “It’s important for brands to focus on the AI and NLP powering these experiences so that they deliver a more frictionless experience.”
More than half of consumers are likely to try a chatbot that offers location-based deals
Chatbots with a local connection are interesting to customers the survey found. When consumers were asked how likely they would be to try a chatbot that offers location-based coupons, deals or promotions from brick-and-mortar retailers nearby. More than half (55%) said that they were likely to do so, with 45% saying they were unlikely.
“Location-based chatbots have real promise,” Huebner said. “An end-user’s location makes the interaction more tailored and personalized—making the experience more relevant, while delivering concrete value for local shoppers.”
38% of consumers think brands should use chatbots for deals, coupons and promotions
What do consumers think the best use of chatbots is? Surprisingly, customer service was not first on the list of most consumers. More than a third, 38% said offers of “deals/coupons/promotions” would be something they’d most like to see chatbots offer. “Customer service support”, which is one of the most common current uses of the technology, was second at 31%. Other answers included “provide store locations/hours near me” (17%), to offer “personalized product recommendations” (7%), to “give the option of directly buying an item” (6%), and “other” (2%).
“Using chatbots to deliver savings and sell consumers on the technology is a no-brainer,” said Huebner. “Customer service interactions can often be seen as pushy or self-serving, but offering a coupon experience can help customers to feel like they are benefitting from the interaction, and can open the way to more positive engagement with that customer. As chatbot technology becomes increasingly sophisticated and chatbots become more common, this gives us an important insight into how consumers will want to use the technology, and the many advantages retailers can gain by adapting to those preferences.”