Chatbots still too dumb to get the job done

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Oct 11, 2018, 7:40 pm IST
Updated Oct 11, 2018, 7:40 pm IST
Survey finds most automated bots only smart enough for quick, simple queries.
Seventy-two per cent of consumers generally find chatbots to be helpful to some degree, but the interaction quality can be quite mixed.
 Seventy-two per cent of consumers generally find chatbots to be helpful to some degree, but the interaction quality can be quite mixed.

Pegasystems Inc., the software company empowering customer engagement at the world’s leading enterprises, today announced survey results from 3,500 global consumers that find most chatbots still aren’t smart enough to meet their high expectations. While most agree chatbots can be fast and convenient in certain situations, consumers cite a lack of intelligence as their top complaint against automated bots, and 65 per cent still prefer a human agent on the other end of the chat.

Seventy-two per cent of consumers generally find chatbots to be helpful to some degree, but the interaction quality can be quite mixed. The majority (58 per cent) rank their chatbot experiences as merely ‘adequate’ – doing some tasks well and others poorly. Another 18 per cent grumble how chatbots are ineffective or even annoying. Only 16 per cent gave their chatbot experience a high quality rating.

 

Analysts expect chatbot usage to rise significantly in the next two years – a shift that could prove costly for brands that don’t evolve their bots. According to Gartner, “25 per cent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, up from less than two per cent in 2017.”

Best bots keep it simple

Consumers tend to favor chatbots for only the simplest queries that can be done quickly. The most popular chatbot use cases are:

·         Tracking an order (60 per cent selected)

·         Finding basic information (53 per cent)

·         Asking basic questions (49 per cent)

The respondents also noted that fast service (56 per cent), ability to engage on their own schedule (37 per cent), and convenience (36 per cent) are chatbots’ top benefits. When done well, 43 per cent say chatbots can be almost as good as interacting with a human, while 34 per cent disagree, and 23 per cent don’t know.

Artificial intelligence or artificial stupidity?

However, speed and simplicity can only take today’s digital consumers so far. While most brands claim artificial intelligence power their bots, consumers’ top chatbot complaints include:

·         Not enough smarts to effectively answer questions (27 per cent)

·         Lack of context in the conversation (24 per cent)

·         Robot-like engagement with few human qualities (14 per cent)

Similarly, the top reasons consumers would drop a chatbot session are when bots can’t answer their questions (47 per cent selected), make them do more work than expected (47 per cent) or are too vague in how they can assist them (43 per cent). Separately, only 17 per cent said they would use a bot to purchase goods and services, further muddying the path from bots to direct revenue.

In no mood for chit chat

The survey found a separate group that have yet to try chatbots at all and have no plans to start anytime soon. These bot holdouts, which skew towards a slightly older demographic, say they haven’t used chatbots yet due to:

·         Lack of any real exposure to chatbots (53 per cent)

·         A personal preference to only engage with a human (30 per cent)

·         Lack of knowledge on how to use chatbots (23 per cent)

A full 45 per cent of these consumers without chatbot experience said they won’t try one in the next year while another 30 per cent aren’t sure, which presents a roadblock to companies trying to expand reliance on digital service channels. Only 25 per cent of these non-users said they would be willing to experiment with a chatbot, albeit with some reluctance. Their biggest concerns stem from their lack of experience: they simply don’t know how to use chatbots (top concern at 46 per cent), lack confidence in chatbot effectiveness (31 per cent), or worry about security and privacy (27 per cent).

Pega surveyed 3,500 consumers across the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, and Australia for this study. Download the eBook, The Chatbot Revolution, at www.pega.com/chatbot-revolution to find more survey results and to learn tips on improving customer service through better chatbots.





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