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Brands May Like Bots, But Consumers Still Crave Human Contact

By Cynthia S. Artin November 14, 2018

Today, Voxpro – powered by TELUS International, a Customer Experience consulting and innovation company, part of Canada-based TELUS International, a global business process outsourcing (BPO) provider, released a new survey that challenges much of the hype around automation.


According to the Voxpro CX Index: At the Corner of Technology and Human Experience, consumers still appreciate live human interaction, at least in the U.S., where the company surveyed 1,000 consumers on issues of bots, AI, automation, and trust.

“There is an incredible opportunity for brands to adopt new technologies that can drive beautiful, engaging customer experiences,” said Dan Kiely, CEO and founder of Voxpro – powered by TELUS International. “However, chatbots and other automated technologies still aren’t able to solve more complex customer issues wholly or on their own – it’s the combination of AI efficiencies with the experience of human interaction that creates memorable customer experiences and builds loyalty. It’s this blend of people and AI that continues to be at the epicenter, driving AI in customer service and creating successful experiences and improved satisfaction levels.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • 68% of consumers still haven’t used chatbots to contact a brand
  • 56% of consumers haven’t used chat or automated features because they prefer experiences with real people
  • For those who have used automated or chat features, nearly half (47%) rated their experience as either good or very good
  • Even though only 32% have used chat or automated features, 49% would be willing to use these features initially for information gathering, to ultimately speak to an agent to resolve their issue

Trust Issues

Brands need to establish trust with consumers about how they store and use their data, the company also said in a news release. “There is a critical need for brands to educate and be transparent about how they are using, storing and sharing consumer information, and what the benefits are to consumers.”

  • Only 21% of consumers trust brands with their personal information
  • 27% of consumers have not used an automated feature or chat specifically because they do not trust them
  • 45% of consumers do not want brands to store their information because they are concerned about data breaches or hacks
  • 13.5% of consumers never share their personal information
  • 33% do not want brands to store their information because of concerns the brand will share information with third parties
  • 45% of consumers DO want brands to have their information to streamline experiences – 55% do not
  • For those that do prefer brands store their info, the number one reason is because it is convenient and saves them time (65%)
  • 25% say it is because it provides a more personalized experience

Generational Shifts

When it comes to engaging brands, generations significantly disagree on how they prefer to engage.

While 32% of consumers have used an automated system or advanced chat feature, that number dips to 22% when individuals aged 65 and older were asked.

45% of people aged 55+ would prefer a brand have their information beforehand, while only 32% of 18-24 year-olds would prefer it.

Voxpro – powered by TELUS International’s new survey is consistent with previous surveys, including one co-produced earlier this year by MyClever, Drift, Salesforce, and SurveyMonkey.

“The adoption of chatbots is still very early, yet the study found 15% of all consumers had engaged with a chatbot in the past 12 months,” a Salesforce blog said. “The most surprising data points of the research include that consumers see chatbots as a faster way to connect humans. 34% of all consumers see chatbots helping in finding a human service assistance.”

This earlier report also concluded that “Consumers also felt there are situations where Chatbots are not useful. Only 9% of consumers find chatbots useful in their attempt to purchase an expensive item. Most likely this is because 30% of consumers surveyed said their greatest worry about the chatbot is that it would make a mistake.”

Both reports shed light on changing consumer behaviors and feelings about the use of technology and automation, and it may be that innovation (integrating technology and human interactions, with data and analytics making a blended experience better, and less costly for brands to deliver) will ultimately win over the next few years – and digital decades.




Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Writer

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