Eptica: Turns Out Consumers Hate Chatbots

November 24, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Chatbots are a comparatively new development when it comes to improving the online and mobile shopping experience. Providing answers on at least some questions, chatbots simulate human responses with online shoppers who interact with them. The good news is that the basic concept is well-received, but the bad news is that current execution just isn’t meeting a lot of users’ needs.

The good news is that consumers like the notion of online chat interaction; 72 percent, in fact, say it makes for greater customer loyalty. Around a third will actually use chatbots in online shopping, hoping for the answers they need. For many, though, the experience just falls flat as only 15 percent say they’re happy with the interaction they’re having with chatbots.

There’s good news mixed in with this bad news; while more people are happy with chat functions online, many have complaints as well. Sixty-five percent of consumers are happier now with chat functions than they were five years ago—not exactly hard given how few places even had such functions five years ago—but 69 percent have at least one complaint about some aspect of the service.

Complaints ranged from waits to actually access the chatbot to a lack of correct information being provided. Increasingly, customers prefer live humans to handle the duties of a chatbot; 77 percent said they wanted to chat with a human for serious customer service problems.

It’s a matter of overall efficacy, really; chatbots are a great way to establish a company’s presence at all hours of the day and night. For simple matters—store hours, account status, things like that—they do a fine job of fending off some calls and freeing up staff for more complex stuff. But trying to use chatbots for real, high-end customer service content just does not work.

Businesses need to know they can’t just put up a chatbot and call it a day; chatbots are great for the basics, but once you get into a  situation more complex than “Are you open President’s Day?”, the chatbot tends to lose its punch. The numbers of dissatisfied users seem to support that, and while the technology is gaining ground, it may not be gaining fast enough to satisfy the growing numbers of unhappy customers in the wings.