The role of chatbots in ecommerce has evolved from a sales tool to a customer service assistant. These AI-powered helpers can answer questions 24/7 and don't make users wait on hold, but not everyone sees the benefits of interacting with chatbots in lieu of other channels.
When US internet users want to resolve a customer service issue quickly, more than half turn to chat, according to a July 2018 survey by CGS, a business process outsourcing firm. Phone (24%), email (13%) and social media (11%) are less frequently used channels. Most prefer to bypass speaking to a human because they take longer to respond (32%) and are less available (32%).
Yet 40% of these customers would prefer a human over a chatbot. Why?
Fully 41% of respondents said chatbots don't provide enough detailed answers, while 37% said chatbots aren't helpful generally. Six in 10 said they would give up on a chatbot if the issue is too complex, and 41% would do the same if the chatbot directs them to FAQs.
This isn't the time for deep personalization—most don't care that a chatbot conversation feels impersonal (13%). They just want to get a problem resolved quickly. More than one-third do expect a customer service rep to be familiar with and have access to all of their prior interactions, though.
Roughly half of the US internet users seeking customer service help in a recent study by Helpshift said dealing with chatbots was keeping them from connecting to a live person. Additional beefs with chatbots echoed those in the CGS survey: too many unhelpful responses and the tendency to redirect to self-serve FAQs.
The sometimes unhelpful nature of chatbots aside, it's possible that it could take more time for consumers to get accustomed to this type of customer service. According to CGS, 60% of US internet users ages 35 to 44 think companies are moving too quickly to replace humans with chatbots. This sentiment was shared by fewer younger and older consumers, but still one-third of those 18 to 24 and 42% of those 55 to 64 had concerns about companies making it harder to connect with live customer service agents.