Majority of consumers prefer phone calls or in-person interactions over AI and automated experiences to complete transactions for healthcare, financial services, and more
Brands are betting on AI and digital communications to enhance their customer experience, and, in fact, experts predict 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human by next year. Yet according to a recent survey commissioned by Invoca and conducted online by The Harris Poll among over 2,000 U.S. adults, consumers don’t seem to have completely bought into interacting with brands through digital-only touchpoints and instead still value human support.
The survey results show that 87% of consumers have reached out to a company and only had the option to communicate through automated communications, such as a chatbot. Among those who have reached out to companies and not been given the opportunity to communicate with a human, one in two (52%) feel frustrated and nearly one in five feel angry (18%). Only about one-third of consumers (36%) believe an entirely automated transaction process would be just as effective as completing the same transaction with a human when it’s for a product or service they’ve purchased in the past.
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“While AI has been a real game changer for the ‘back office’ of business — think martech tools and the ways to run businesses more efficiently — this study suggests that it still lags on the front end of business — the consumer interactions. As a likely result, many consumers strongly prefer human interaction to complete certain types of transactions,” said Julia Stead, VP of marketing at Invoca. “Every company needs to be aware of its customers’ preferences and prioritize them in their marketing strategy. While AI and automation can help with simple interactions or requests, the option to connect with a human should always be on the table for consumers, especially in industries like healthcare and financial services.”
The study, which was conducted to explore general consumer attitudes toward AI and automation in the brand experience, shows consumers are wary of trusting information or advice from AI-based interactions, especially when it comes to more complicated information. While nearly half (49%) of consumers would trust AI-generated advice for retail item information, only one in five (20%) would trust AI-generated advice for healthcare information and just 19% would trust AI-generated advice for financial services advice. Meanwhile, 38% of consumers say they’d trust AI-generated advice for hospitality advice, such as checking in for a flight or comparing flight and hotel options or restaurant recommendations.
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Phone calls are the winning channel for healthcare when it comes to completing a transaction, with 32% of consumers preferring to do so over the phone compared to 30% in-person and 25% online. The survey also proved brick and mortar is still alive; many consumers prefer completing transactions in-person across many industries, including retail, home maintenance and financial services. In fact, 46% prefer in-person for completing retail transactions (purchasing clothing, electronics, home goods), compared to just 35% who say they prefer to complete these types of transactions online, while 51% prefer in-person for completing financial services transactions versus 27% who prefer online. For home maintenance and improvement transactions, in-person tops the list at 39%, followed by online and phone calls (24% each).
Survey Method: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Invoca from May 9-13, 2019 among 2,048 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
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