Genesys Survey Shows U.S. Consumers Are Warming up to AI: Nearly 70% Describe Past Experiences With Customer Service Bots as Positive

Chatbots Are Also More Polite Than Humans, Say Nearly 40% of Genesys Survey Respondents

As organizations increasingly look to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automate their customer support processes, consumers are coming around to engaging with chatbots. A new U.S. nationwide survey of 800 consumers over the age of 18 finds that more than two-thirds (68%) have positive interactions with customer service bots when they require support. While 21% say they can “almost always” resolve their issue through a bot without escalation to a customer service representative, 47% say they can do this “more than half of the time.”

Even better, nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents are open to dealing with a voice/chatbot. Although, half (51%) say this is only when the issue is simple or transactional, such as checking account balances, resetting passwords or confirming order status.

However, there is still some lingering resistance to bots and automation. When issues are more complex, such as billing errors or missed flight connections, only 21% of the consumers surveyed feel comfortable dealing with a bot. In fact, 57% of survey participants say they would rather wait 10 minutes to get help from a human agent than spend five minutes being assisted by a voice/chatbot.

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These insights are the latest in a series of research-based announcements from Genesys, the global leader in omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions. Genesys conducted surveys in 13 countries around the globe to examine consumer opinions on the increasingly automated customer experience.

Merijn te Booij, the chief marketing officer of Genesys, said, “This survey makes it abundantly clear that while consumers are growing more comfortable with service bots, they still want the option to consult with a human agent for more challenging requests. That’s why we recommend that businesses take a blended approach to service – where bots and employees work together seamlessly to solve customer needs faster.”

Manners maketh man

An unanticipated survey finding is that 38% of Americans believe that a bot is more polite than a human. Even more astonishing, this result is driven by the youngest and oldest survey respondents, with 43% of Post-Millennials (ages 18-24) holding this belief as well as 45% of Baby Boomer seniors (over age 65).

Is this because better manners are being built into bots? As the language capabilities of bots become more advanced, they have become chattier, with a broader range of expressions, which may cause consumers to perceive them as friendlier and more polite. Or is it that time-strapped human agents have become more abrupt in their support interactions? This poses a question unanswered by the survey data: Are bots becoming more human-like, or are humans becoming more bot-like? Only time will tell.

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The good, the bad and the ugly in customer experience

No matter how organizations interact with customers, the survey results emphasize that companies need to protect their reputations by focusing on what consumers consider good service. Equipping employees with relevant and accurate information so they can respond to questions in a timely manner positions companies to keep their customers happier.

  • The survey shows that consumers overwhelmingly value knowledgeable staff (52%) and responsiveness (47%) in their dealings with businesses. Men and women agree on these top two values, although men value them equally while women rank knowledgeable staff (56%) over a timely response (43%).
  • When asked to make a direct comparison, U.S. survey participants judged a company’s reputation for offering good customer service (45%) as more important than its value for money (37%), and far preferable to low prices (18%). In fact, a full 20% of respondents would be willing to pay up to 5% extra to ensure better service.
  • The survey results show that a negative customer experience can have a dramatic, irreversible effect. In fact, more than half (52%) of U.S. consumers claim they simply stop doing business with a company after poor service. It can also damage the company’s public reputation as 39% say they discuss their unfavorable experiences with family and friends. Bad service also has ripple effects as 21% of respondents say they use social media to share their experience with followers.
  • The top three most irritating aspects of customer service all reflect the impatient, pressed-for-time American lifestyle: (1) too many automated options before reaching a live agent or resolving the issue (43%), (2) being put on hold for more than 5 minutes (40%), and (3) having to repeat oneself (thus wasting time) due to language/accent misunderstanding (38%).

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