It’s no surprise that consumers crave a highly personalized shopping experience, want the highest caliber of customer service and they also want problems resolved quickly. What remains elusive is how marketers should approach interactions with customers today given the rise of chatbots and other automated technology that promises faster resolutions and reduced operational costs. A survey from Drift and Survey Monkey Audience, the “2019 State of Conversational Marketing Report,” explores how and if brands should leverage chatbots in their conversational marketing strategies.
A follow-up to Drift’s “2018 State of Chatbots Report,” the report surveyed over 1,000 US consumers to analyze peoples’ preferred method of communication with brands. To start, 46 percent of millennials said they want chatbots to provide answers to their simple questions. Additionally, 44 percent expect an immediate response (within five seconds) from chatbots and face-to-face conversations.
Similarly, when asked about the most convenient channel for speaking with brands, 40 percent said chatbots are the best at delivering 24/7 service, with online chat coming in second at 32 percent. Additionally, those who owned 10 or more connected devices said they were more likely to trust chatbots to handle important tasks, such as scheduling a meeting or resolving a complaint. Comparatively, those who own three or less connected devices were almost less than half as likely to trust chatbots to take care of those same tasks.
Though convenient and gaining traction, chatbots may not be a magic bullet for brands to improve customer service. In fact, the survey found that buyers are twice as likely to say that they have a better customer experience when speaking with a live human.
Another reason companies may not be as fast to incorporate chatbots is that email, smartphone apps and telephone are still the dominant ways people want to talk to brands. It may come as a surprise to many that 33 percent of respondents said they used email more frequently this year compared to last year. When asked how they’ve communicated with organizations in the past 12 months, 65 percent said email—and that number has grown from 60 percent last year.
Consumers surveyed also cited problems with other traditional online experiences. For example, when asked which online frustrations they’ve experienced in the last month, 34 percent answered “Can’t get answers to simple questions,” and 30 percent said, “Site is hard to navigate.”
As customers become increasingly comfortable interacting with chatbots, marketers can’t afford to entirely shun traditional forms of communication. Rather, their focus should be the use of chatbots to complement their human and phone customer services. Tailoring the channel to the purpose of the interaction is essential. To fully meet customers’ needs while also personalizing their experience, know the difference between delivering fast, straightforward communication and a more complex customer service experience that requires the human touch.