January 18, 2018

What Do Consumers Really Think About Chatbots?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is certainly a hot topic here at PointSource. We believe the technology will have a great impact in 2018, and so we’ve made it our mission to become AI experts – from tips on getting started with AI to implementation strategies to developing long-term ROI with the solution.

But while we may be AI-obsessed, what do consumers really think about the technology? To better understand the budding relationship between consumers and AI, we explored one of its most promising applications to date – chatbots.

The Hard Truth About Chatbots

Our research suggests consumers just aren’t familiar with what qualifies as an AI application. Just over half (54 percent) of consumers reported using an AI application in the past year, yet another 62 percent identified having used an AI-enabled device in the same time frame. This means that 8 percent of survey takers didn’t know they were using AI, a statistic that likely doesn’t even capture the full scope of misunderstood AI experiences in America.

AI and chatbots may be growing in popularity on the business side, but consumers don’t understand what the technology can do, or what it looks like digitally. More importantly, consumers have yet to see how using chatbots could benefit them.. Regardless of where this disconnect stems from, it’s up to businesses to bridge the gap between consumers and chatbots. In order to do so, organizations should focus on overcoming common reservations around chatbot usage.

According to our study, top concerns include:

  • Privacy/Security: Forty-one percent of consumers fear for the privacy and security of their personal data from hackers, and 32 percent are scared their information will be shared with other companies.
  • Speed: Fifty-nine percent of consumers grow frustrated if a chatbot has yet to provide them a clear path to resolution within 5 minutes.
  • Friction: Fifty-one percent of consumers anticipate frustrations around chatbots not understanding what they’re looking for, and 44 percent question the accuracy of the information chatbots provide.

It seems that chatbots have a bit of a reputation problem, which is only perpetuated by the fact that we tend to remember negative chatbot experiences over positive ones (anyone recall Microsoft’s racist chatbot?). However, in identifying what consumers dislike about the technology, organizations have opportunities to work against these preconceived notions, engineer more valuable experiences and serve as the bridge between chatbots and end users.

So, what do consumers actually want? According to our findings, it’s greater transparency into the chatbot process and the human touch. Thirty-nine percent of respondents say a clearer understanding of how businesses use their information would make them more comfortable using chatbots. Likewise, half (49 percent) of consumers would feel better about using a chatbot if they had assurance that they could escalate their interactions to humans if necessary. Our report overwhelmingly found that humans remain the biggest aid in helping consumers see the value of new technologies like chatbots.

To learn more about how consumers feel about chatbots, as well as strategies for encouraging greater AI adoption moving forward, download our Finding Common Ground Between Consumers and Artificial Intelligence study. Or contact one of our digital transformation specialists directly.


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