New survey lights up the future for chatbots
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The opportunities for chatbots are massive, but there is still a great deal of effort needed to raise awareness and make the public comfortable with them. Figures revealed by the results of one of the first major surveys into the topic highlight key issues that need addressing.

 

The chatbot numbers game

The key stats are that over 50% of people (the survey was taken in the United Kingdom from Ubisend) are aware of chatbot as a concept. However, over 75% of those surveyed have yet to interact with one. Of those, 40% would not, are not confident enough, or do not know how to use one.

While chatbots continue to appear on more apps and on the front pages of websites as the first port of call for customer contact, hosts need to do a better job of introducing them. Quick videos or pop-ups highlighting their benefits and a broad push across all touchpoints will help drive adoption and user understanding.

Generally speaking, chatbots also need their “media moment”, in order to be widely seen on TV or in a movie. The Big Bang Theory helped popularise Siri and other gadgets, but it is hard to recall a chatbot making a notable appearance anywhere. Ex Machina was promoted by a chatbot, but an appearance in a mainstream movie could do a lot more than any corporate hints.

Question: Have you seen a chatbot in the media? What do you think would be the most appropriate type of demonstration?

 

People and Chatbots testing each other out

People like chatbots as they provide a buffer between a company and its actual agents. They can often help with questions people feel too silly to ask or be used for finding basic information. Some 69% of respondents like the instant response of a bot, yet only 21% think it is the easiest way to communicate with a company.

Worse, only 15% think of chatbots as fun. Given the need to welcome customers or clients, developers should focus on making chatbots as welcoming and inclusive as possible. Even the stuffiest of companies should allow them to inject a little fun into the conversation.

When it comes to using, the most common types of information requested from a chatbot are opening hours (69%) and for offers and deals (40%). This suggests the younger digital natives, used to plenty of Groupon and voucher codes sites, expect to be rewarded when they interact with chatbots, something that all businesses should consider as an incentive.

These younger users are also more likely to spend money using a chatbot-triggered sale. This suggests that the chatbot could soon be augmenting the basic online store, helping guide the shopper to the right product through fast interaction, rather than drilling down through many menus.

 

What’s the response to Chatbots?

Every business that deploys a chatbot will get some feedback on how people feel about the bot, but you can bet that most users will ignore it. As it is, users perceive the companies that deploy a chatbot as innovative (43%) and helpful (30%) but also less personal (35%) and gimmicky (23%). The juggling act of looking like the former while avoiding the latter requires some careful editing and focus around the chatbot.

Even though a chatbot should be simple to implement and create an engaging conversation with, there are still 9% reporting that a chatbot is difficult to use. That experience may be based on user expectation, but 12% report one providing the wrong information, which suggests poor design and deployment.

Anyone creating a chatbot should carefully consider and test their product to ensure it meets the needs of the customer, but also works in an engaging and attractive manner. They should consider deploying the bot across all touchpoints, with products like Snatchbot offering a wide footprint, while those with complex needs should look to the open source BotLibre for flexibility and advanced functions.

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