Chatbots, those artificial intelligence apps that interact with people like human beings, have gone from science fiction to reality. Your customers encounter them not just in movies but also in real life as they shop, browse social media, or request service — even when they pick up their phones and ask for directions. Chatbots can be great for reducing overhead, freeing up employees and funds to devise better service strategies in more intensive areas, and improving accessibility to basic customer service 24/7. But it is important to research customer opinions and preferences about this technology before employing it in your business — it is not a one-size-fits-all strategy.
First thing to consider is: Does it suit your business? ORC International CARAVAN®’s new survey found that chatbot acceptance rates fare better in some industries than others. For instance, nearly three times as many consumers (61 percent) liked using chatbots at a fast food drive through than at a medical office (19 percent).
In general, people are less resistant to interacting with chatbots when it comes to lower stakes purchases (e.g., food and retail items) than when facing big-ticket sales like insurance, financial services, and health care. That makes sense intuitively. When you buy a sweater or a set of dishes, you don’t have to consider as many variables as when you select a life insurance policy. Less can go wrong.
The bottom line: Businesses that employ very high-touch, consultative sales processes – or sell expensive products – will probably find chatbots less useful. Companies that sell impulse items like food, flowers, music, or clothes may have better results when integrating chatbots into their approach.
Raise Comfort Levels Through Education
Educating your customers about chatbots can raise their comfort levels, regardless of your business. Our survey showed that customers who were knowledgeable about chatbots accepted them more readily across all industries.
Interestingly, familiarity even made people more comfortable with the complex, high-priced categories that scored worst among uninformed customers. Roughly twice as many customers who knew about chatbots felt comfortable using them to buy insurance (40 percent versus 23 percent) or medical services (40 percent versus 19 percent).
Still, as with any new technology, companies should move cautiously when incorporating chatbots. Many customers are still unsure about this technology. More than 7 in 10 (73 percent) survey respondents said they would be less likely to use a company or service if they knew they would be communicating with a chatbot rather than a human.
Frustrations already exist with limited-human interaction customer service and chatbots will need to ‘prove’ themselves competent to the marketplace in order to gain acceptance. Still, there are many (especially Millennials) that are ready embrace artificial intelligence, there is still a large population that don’t. Educate, test and ensure your customers are ready to limit the impact to your bottom line.
View more results from our infographic:
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