March 19, 2019 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
There are numerous consumer surveys about chatbots that argue people prefer interacting with them for certain tasks. Others come out the opposite way. The reality is somewhere in-between and fairly well captured in new survey data from Uberall.
The survey of roughly 1,000 US adults asked about their level of interest in interacting with bots from “major brands”:
- 40% were interested (20% very interested)
- 30% somewhat uninterested
- 29% no interest at all
This distribution probably reflects varying levels of experience with bots. The 30% in the middle are “independents” who might be persuaded by positive experiences or interactions. However it’s not clear from the data released how many of these people have actually interacted with bots or what the demographic distribution is. One would expect younger users to be more receptive, but there’s no data provided by age group.
Among those who had interacted with bots, 80% said their experiences were positive and 14% of that group said they were “very positive.” Only 20% reported negative experiences. Notwithstanding this largely positive response, people felt that bots needed to improve in several areas:
- 43% wanted better understanding/comprehension or greater accuracy
- 27% wanted the opportunity to hand off to a human agent
- 19% wanted a more “natural-sounding” conversation
- 10% wanted more opportunities to interact with bots (which is not an “improvement”)
When asked about the best use for bots, respondents had some interesting answers:
- 38% offers/coupons/promotions
- 31% customer support/service
- 17% provide store hours/locations near me
- 7% provide personalized product recommendations
- 6% option to directly buy an item
- 2% other
As indicated, the survey asked how likely people were to try or use a bot that offered local coupons — people generally love coupons — 55% said they would be likely to. This was a bit of a surprise; the other 45% were unswayed. But clearly there’s an opportunity here to use bots/agents as local discovery (and booking) tools, even though the survey doesn’t appear to have asked about scheduling.
This is just the latest in a growing body of surveys on consumer receptiveness to chatbots. More generally, there are probably three or four variables at play in people’s responses and attitudes:
- Prior experience with bots (and quality of experience)
- Nature of issue/task/question (simple = bot, complex = human)
Companies need to be judicious in their deployment of bots. Well-executed and thoughtful experiences will benefit the business and the consumer. Poorly done, generic experiences will backfire and cause damage to the brand (i.e., “bot rage”).
Bots have a role to play in SMB marketing and customer service. But it’s going to be harder for third party providers to get that right unless the tools are highly verticalized for the specific industry segment (e.g., dentists vs. salons).