A new survey of 1,554 consumers worldwide about their recent chatbot experiences was released today. The respondents gave their chatbot experiences an average rating of 6.4/10 or 64%. 50% of consumers said they often feel frustrated their interactions with chatbots and nearly 40% of these interactions were said to be negative. The survey was commissioned by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Cyara.
In general, consumers view chatbots favorably, as they provide 24/7 support, faster response times, and autonomy. As a result, chatbots typically rank higher than speaking directly with an agent or any other digital channel of communication.
However… almost 75% of consumers agree that chatbots aren’t able to handle complex questions and are often unable to provide accurate answers. More than half of the consumers surveyed agree it is difficult to find a solution to their question or problem using a chatbot. Almost half of respondents said that chatbots have provided them with responses and/or solutions that didn’t make sense in the context of their question.
Most frustrating (in my experience) is the chatbot-human connection or lack thereof: More than half of the respondents reported that they are often unable to connect with an agent even after exhausting the chatbot’s responses.
The result of negative chatbot interactions? 30% of consumers said that after a negative chatbot experience, they are likely to take their purchase to a different brand, abandon their purchase altogether, or tell their friends and family about their poor experience with the brand.
The result of positive chatbot interactions? 61% of the consumers surveyed said they are more likely to return to a brand after a positive experience and far more likely to recommend that brand to others. 56% of the respondents are more likely to seek out chatbots in the future after a positive experience with a chatbot.
According to Gartner, there are currently approximately 17 million contact center agents worldwide. Recruiting these agents, however, is a great challenge given the prevailing labor shortages and tight labor market. As labor expenses represent up to 95% of contact center costs, companies worldwide are increasing their investment in chatbots.
Gartner predicts that one in 10 agent interactions will be automated by 2026, an increase from an estimated 1.6% of interactions today that are automated using AI. “Conversational AI can automate all or part of a contact center customer interaction through both voice and digital channels… While automating a full interaction – also known as call containment or deflection – corresponds to significant cost savings, there is also value in partial containment, such as automating the identification of a customer’s name, policy number and reason for calling. Capturing this information using AI could reduce up to a third of the interaction time that would typically be supported by a human agent,” says Gartner.
Given the obvious business benefits, Gartner predicts that by 2027, chatbots will become the primary customer service channel for roughly a quarter of organizations.
However… Garner’s predictions were made based on surveys and discussions with business executives last year, before OpenAI introduced ChatGPT to the world on November 30. Generative AI is indeed a “game changer” in terms of consumer expectations and future deployment of consumer-assisting chatbots.
IDC quickly reacted to the new chatbot landscape when it surveyed the potential business implications of generative AI applications: “Outside of the use of content generation for advertising and marketing along with the automation of marketing campaigns, the primary application for early versions of generative AI is in AI driven chatbots and agents for contact centers and customer self-service such as employed by Salesforce and Genesys, and these have initially delivered mixed results.”
The mixed results are the offshoot of the known deficiencies of the first generation of chatbots driven by generative AI such as inaccurate answers and restricted range of interactions. But IDC believes that with additional training, these imperfections will gradually disappear. IDC predicts that in the near future, “generative AI will become more prevalent in the creation of personalized product recommendations through insight analytics, better and deeper customer segmentation as a steppingstone to true personalization and contextualization of experiences, and better understanding customer satisfaction and performance.”
We will certainly find out this year if generative AI is going to improve or lessen the quality of customer service chatbots and consumer interactions with them.