meerkat

New research reveals UK consumers’ demand for chatbots to a provide faster, slicker customer service from brands.

New research from ubisend, a creative communication AI technology company, today reveals the brand characters people most want to see turned into chatbots.

The Compare the Market Meerkats topped the list when consumers were asked which brand character they would most like to engage with in chatbot. They were followed by the Andrex puppies and Nespresso’s George Clooney.

While three-quarters (75 per cent) of UK consumers have not yet spoken to a chatbot, the majority of consumers are aware of what a chatbot is (57 per cent) and over a third (35  per cent) want to see more companies adopting chatbots to solve their queries.

Meeting consumer demand

When asked what is most important in their experience of communicating with a company, the majority of British consumers (58%) say it is ‘reaching the desired outcome’, closely followed by ‘ease of experience’ (48 per cent) and speed (44 per cent). Being able to contact a brand at the time most convenient to them is also important to 39 per cent of UK consumers.

The main reason why respondents choose to engage with a chatbot before a human customer service representative is because they want instant answers to their questions (69 per cent) – particularly for information about a brand’s service, such as opening hours. Just over a fifth of consumers (21 per cent) would also purchase goods and services from a chatbot while 22 per cent would look to use a chatbot to receive recommendations on goods and services they might like from a brand.

In fact, a third of UK consumers (32 per cent) say they would consider using a company’s chatbot before engaging with a human, with 21 per cent of UK consumers seeing chatbots as the easiest way to contact companies.

Commenting on the findings, Dean Withey, CEO at ubisend said, “The conditions are ripe for chatbots now. The things consumers demand most when communicating with a company are at the heart of what a chatbot delivers. A perfect storm has been created where technology can now match or exceed consumers’ expectations of how brands should be interacting with them.

“In this age where convenience always wins out, brands need to solve problems quickly and efficiently to differentiate themselves from a customer service standpoint. Chatbots have the ability to answer questions 24/7, they will never lose their temper with a customer, and they provide the quick and efficient communication that people now demand.”

Changing perceptions

The overall impression of brands that adopt chatbots is a positive one, with 43 per cent of UK consumers saying they perceive companies that use chatbots as ‘innovative’. A further 30 per cent regard such companies as ‘helpful’ and 22 per cent see them as ‘more efficient’ in their customer service. Nearly one in five (17 per cent) of respondents say they perceive a brand using chatbots as ‘fun’.

Just 23 per cent of UK consumers say they find the use of chatbots ‘gimmicky’ and there was a clear generational divide in this perception. Of the respondents that found the use of chatbots ‘gimmicky’, 38 perr cent were aged over 60 years old compared to just 10 per cent of 16 to 25 year olds.

Withey continued, “While chatbots must make customer experience efficient and reliable, the best chatbots also delight users. They will not only deliver the excellent customer service needed, but they will offer a novelty experience that cannot be delivered by any other means of digital contact.

“Chatbots bring brand personas to life. This imagination makes people happy and helps increase brand recall. For the first time, brands can have an engaging conversation online.”

More education

The research also uncovered a need for more education around how consumers should engage with chatbots. Two-fifths (40 per cent) say they would not think to engage with a chatbot, or don’t know how to use one.

Withey concluded, “Consumer trust in chatbots will come from brands’ ability to deliver a good chatbot experience. Right now, people don’t expect to have in-depth, human-like conversations with automated technology such as Alexa – they just want to be able to get the information they need, quickly.

“There is the chance to innovate the customer-brand relationship and to provide a tool to reach consumers on platforms they are already using. This means the experience is completely convenient for them and they don’t have to change their behaviour. When consumers trust that brands can deliver the experience they demand from chatbots, widespread adoption will take hold.”

For more information the full report can be found here: https://insights.ubisend.com/2017-chatbot-report