A new study investigates how consumers engage with chatbots, including Alexa and Siri as well as message services like Facebook Messenger. While consumers may get the answers they need from chatbots, they don’t necessarily want to interact with them.
As many as 80 percent of people who have interacted with a chatbot say the experience was positive, according to a survey from Uberall, a location marketing company. Even so, 59 percent of respondents are indicate they are not interested in using the technology.
“There’s definitely growing interest in branded chatbot experiences, but most consumers still need convincing,” Florian Huebner, co-CEO/co-founder of Uberall, said in a statement. “Many are wary, either because chatbot technology in the past was not advanced enough to ensure a good experience or because consumers worry chatbots could easily become another spam channel. Brands have to do a better job creating [artificial intelligence] experiences that customers find personalized, helpful and worthwhile.”
The good news is some brands appear to be getting it right. Despite ambivalence about chatbots in general, the vast majority of people who have interacted with a chatbot say the experience was generally positive. And 14 percent of respondents called the chatbot interaction “very positive.” Just 16 percent said that their experience was “somewhat negative” while only 4 percent reported a “very negative” experience.
“Most people who’ve used chatbots have had some positive experiences, which is great news. It speaks to consistent improvements in the underlying technology and the power of familiarity,” Huebner said. “What this means for marketers is that once consumers actually try a branded chatbot, the experience can usually be worth it. It seems the challenging part is convincing them to adopt in the first place.”
Late last year, Humley released a study that said more than two-thirds of Americans would like to use chatbots to improve the online travel experience. The survey of 1,000 Americans gauged consumer frustrations and preferences regarding online experiences within the travel and hospitality industries.
Consumers are searching for a solution that makes booking both vacation and business travel easier, the report shows, and consumers see travel chatbots as a viable option. Two-thirds of those surveyed would find a chatbot useful (40 percent) or very useful (26 percent) in managing all of their business and work travel arrangements.
Chatbots do have some opportunities to grow, however—particularly in the areas of artificial intelligence and natural language processing. When asked what elements of chatbots needed improvement, a number of respondents said chatbots need to work on their accuracy in understanding what customers are asking or looking for (43 percent).
Other areas cited for improvement included the ability of customers to get “a human customer rep involved where needed” (27 percent), “ability to hold a more ‘human’-sounding, natural conversation” (19 percent) and “I’d like to see more of them because there just aren’t many opportunity to use chatbots” (10 percent).
“If a chatbot is struggling to address a consumer’s questions, it can be exponentially more frustrating than trying to be understood by a human. A few interactions like this will pollute their perception of the technology,” said Huebner. “It’s important for brands to focus on the AI and NLP powering these experiences so that they deliver a more frictionless experience.”
The growing popularity of smart speakers that rely on AI and NLP technologies to handle conversations is helping to familiarize millions of people with chatbots, reports Mobile Marketer. As a result, consumers are growing comfortable enough with chatbots that banks and other financial institutions are beginning to roll out chatbot tech.
Chatbots also are becoming more commonplace in the hotel industry. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas introduced chatbot Rose in 2017. Rose’s playful concept is unlike other chatbots in the hospitality space because she is savvy, quick-witted and inspiring—reflecting the distinct mystique of the resort and its guests, according to the hotel.
Accor's Mercure brand launched Bot, an instant messaging solution for Facebook and Messenger, in 2017 as well. "Offering a hotel experience anchored in a specific locality is the very essence of the Mercure brand and its venues," the company said at the time, and "only a Bot is capable of memorizing the full range of stories from so many places around the world. This handy tool will enable travelers and neighborhood residents alike to discover the 'local stories' that surround them, simply by geolocating and allowing themselves to be guided."
Last year, Japanese hotelier Fujita Kanko implemented a multilingual chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to handle guest inquiries on the websites for some of its Japanese-based properties. Website visitors can use the chatbot in Japanese, English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese or Korean to receive 24/7 assistance.