Chatbots Ecommerce Consumer Perception

How do customers feel about chatbots?

In February 2020, Facebook announced that, along with other changes to its app, it is hiding chatbots away for a faster and simpler view. Games, business, the whole Discover part is pushed back. This is a big shift after 3 years of everyone in the industry talking about how chatbots are changing the way people shop.

Does Facebook know something we refuse to see? Did chatbots not live up to expectations fast enough?

The only relevant opinion is that of the shoppers – if they use chatbots, how they feel about them, is it working? That’s the ultimate proof of anything in ecommerce, all else is just companies trying to sell their tech product.

Customer’s perceptions of chatbots

After we all on the software side of ecommerce expected chatbots to revolutionize customer engagement and increase sales, current customer sentiments don’t prove us right. While back in 2017, 40% of respondents didn’t care if it was a human or a chatbot answering as long as they got the assistance they needed, consumer perceptions changed in the last 2-3 years.

Numerous studies now show that people are used to chatbots and open to using them, but for limited tasks only. The overwhelming majority prefer talking to a person if there’s a big issue. Let’s see some numbers.

A consumer survey by Usabilla found that:

  • 36% of people prefer chatbots over voice customer service when the issue is simple, like a basic question asked, but not when the issue is more complex or problematic.
  • 55% prefer to chat with real people. Another survey by Pega found that number to be 65%.
  • 43% prefer talking to a person because “I want to connect with a real human who can understand my problem” – they don’t trust chatbots can understand their problem and respond adequately. In a study by Uberall, 43% of respondents said bots should be able to better understand more nuanced queries and their language is not natural enough (19%).
  • 5% of people in another survey said they preferred chatbots over humans because chatbots were less intimidating when you ask basic questions/li>
  • 18% want to always interact with a human, no matter the issue.

The overall takeaway from this survey is that shoppers do not want chatbots to replace human customer service as they are not capable of solving complex problems.

The survey also found something else that’s very interesting: people now actually want less automation. 73% choose to talk to an agent straight away and not use the automated phone-tree on phone support – the predecessor of chatbots. Also, 50% of millennials don’t mind spending 10 more minutes with phone support over chatbots. Are we tired of too much tech?

The silver lining is that 54% overall would choose a chatbot if it saved them 10 minutes so customers value their time more than are tech-averse.

How marketing executives evaluate the performance of chatbots

This graph shows how marketers need chatbots to be working and how actually their companies chatbots efforts are doing right now:

Chatbots Capabilities

It seems that chatbots in ecommerce are not yet up to the expectations. All context and nuances, characteristic for human interaction, are lost to them.

Best uses of chatbots in ecommerce

Chatbots are awesome technology for ecommerce marketing and we are not saying to stop using them. Only use them for the tasks that actually bring results and your customers are not put off at having to communicate with a chatbot. These would be:

  • Answering basic questions like directing to a size guide or giving tracking info. (A good FAQ page would do the job as well – 70% of people already read “very often” such pages on a brand’s website so need to overuse bots.)
  • Drawing attention to new products, promotions or changes (The Uberall survey also found that customers want chatbots to be used to inform about promotions and coupons first and foremost, customer service came second and the least number of people wanted chatbots to personalize product suggestions for them or to complete an order in the chat directly.)
  • Giving important information to loyal customers.

Overall, chatbots’ best use is to handle the time-consuming, but easy tasks so customer service teams have more time for more important tasks. They’d be much needed during holiday rush, for example, answering questions on delivery times and gift wrap options available. But this does not substitute having well-trained customer service agents. They are the ones that will drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. The best telephone answering service we have ever used is CallNET’s service in Cheyenne, Wyoming. They have excellent prices and we highly recommend them.

Related: Streamlining your ecommerce marketing


About the author

With experience in FMCG and marketing, Dimira writes to help the brands of tomorrow succeed and believes passion is a key ingredient in any business.

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