Lackluster Chatbots Get Kicked to the Curb as Consumers Demand More from Digital-First Experiences

By Jen Snell, Vice President, Go-to-Market Strategy, Conversational AI at Verint

Organizations are struggling to keep up with consumers who continue to demand more from their digital-first experiences. To meet that need, businesses must step up and deliver smart, savvy self-service solutions that don’t leave consumers annoyed or frustrated. Every self-serve channel needs to pull its weight in the post-pandemic world.

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In 2020, the global pandemic led to an unprecedented surge in the usage of AI-powered customer service. The combination of a reduced labor force and high volume of support inquiries caused a 426 percent increase in chatbot usage as businesses began to rely on virtual assistants more than ever before. In fact, this trend is slated to continue with industry estimates for chatbot growth set to grow at a CAGR of 34.7 percent. 

Despite the growing prevalence of chatbots in the customer service realm, chatbots are not without their own challenges as revealed in a recent survey we conducted of 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 to 65.

Our survey results reveal that consumers just aren’t sold on chatbot efficacy, and many find chatbot experiences flat-out frustrating. They’re registering multiple complaints against chatbots as they continue to demand more from their digital-first experiences. 

Nearly one-third – 32 percent – say they rarely or never feel understood by a chatbot. Only 28 percent say they always or often feel understood, and 30.5 percent say a chatbot rarely or never fully answers their questions. 

Due to this failure to communicate, over 30.8 percent say they always or often abandon efforts to resolve an issue when interacting with a chatbot. As a result of the inability to resolve issues or have their questions answered via chatbots, more than half of consumers turn to human agents for help – 54.5 percent say they always or often must request to speak to a human after speaking with a chatbot. 

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A common frustration cited by more than 60 percent of consumers was having to re-explain a situation to a customer service agent after starting the interaction with a chatbot.

Beyond problems with comprehension and issue resolution, consumers voiced frustrations with lackluster chatbots including:  

  • 45.7% say the options aren’t sufficient
  • 41.7% say chatbots lack context for their unique situation
  • 41.4% say chatbots don’t have all the information that they need
  • 26.1% say the interactions feel impersonal 
  • 21.3% say the experience is too time consuming

Respondents said they are most comfortable using conversational AI for simple use cases such as retrieving account information, scheduling appointments or services, and travel bookings. They do feel chatbots are increasingly effective for 24/7 assistance and quick responses in use cases such as healthcare – particularly in scenarios such as increasing patient adherence. 

With businesses continuing to increasingly rely on chatbots as a key channel in the digital-first approaches, the next generation of chatbots must be more intelligent, personalized and effective. Negative experiences with outdated or poorly deployed chatbots will hurt overall adoption rates. Companies need to provide a high-quality experience with their conversational AI solutions, given higher customer demands and expectations.

Chatbots need to move beyond micro-smarts to become intelligent systems that deliver advanced understanding, assistance, and intelligence. ‘Beyond the bot’ conversational AI systems can carry on true contextual conversation, complete with clarifications or a subsequent choice by users. 

These supercharged chatbots are supported by deep domain expertise, so their comprehension of user intent goes way beyond generic natural language processing. They are also highly integrated with many systems of record to ensure effective issue resolution and the delivery of the right information. This also includes when the conversation is moved to a human agent and delivering all relevant context of the interaction, so customers don’t have to repeat themselves and agents can be successful by quickly resolving issues. 

Leveraging conversational AI to support rich two-way dialogues, chatbots can help facilitate seamless real-time communication and resolution, as well as help build a company’s brand credibility and boost engagement. Conversational AI can be a key element of every organization’s digital engagement strategy, but only if those digital experiences keep customers coming back for more.

To download a copy of the report, visit Conversational AI Barometer: Chatbots and Next-Gen AI.

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