SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 6, 2019/PRNewswire/ -- As organizations increasingly look to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automate their customer support processes, consumers are coming around to engaging with chatbots. A new U.S. nationwide survey of 800 consumers over the age of 18 finds that more than two-thirds (68%) have positive interactions with customer service bots when they require support. While 21% say they can "almost always" resolve their issue through a bot without escalation to a customer service representative, 47% say they can do this "more than half of the time."
Even better, nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents are open to dealing with a voice/chatbot. Although, half (51%) say this is only when the issue is simple or transactional, such as checking account balances, resetting passwords or confirming order status.
However, there is still some lingering resistance to bots and automation. When issues are more complex, such as billing errors or missed flight connections, only 21% of the consumers surveyed feel comfortable dealing with a bot. In fact, 57% of survey participants say they would rather wait 10 minutes to get help from a human agent than spend five minutes being assisted by a voice/chatbot.
Merijn te Booij, the chief marketing officer of Genesys, said, "This survey makes it abundantly clear that while consumers are growing more comfortable with service bots, they still want the option to consult with a human agent for more challenging requests. That's why we recommend that businesses take a blended approach to service – where bots and employees work together seamlessly to solve customer needs faster."
Manners maketh man
An unanticipated survey finding is that 38% of Americans believe that a bot is more polite than a human. Even more astonishing, this result is driven by the youngest and oldest survey respondents, with 43% of Post-Millennials (ages 18-24) holding this belief as well as 45% of Baby Boomer seniors (over age 65).
Is this because better manners are being built into bots? As the language capabilities of bots become more advanced, they have become chattier, with a broader range of expressions, which may cause consumers to perceive them as friendlier and more polite. Or is it that time-strapped human agents have become more abrupt in their support interactions? This poses a question unanswered by the survey data: Are bots becoming more human-like, or are humans becoming more bot-like? Only time will tell.
The good, the bad and the ugly in customer experience
No matter how organizations interact with customers, the survey results emphasize that companies need to protect their reputations by focusing on what consumers consider good service. Equipping employees with relevant and accurate information so they can respond to questions in a timely manner positions companies to keep their customers happier.
The survey shows that consumers overwhelmingly value knowledgeable staff (52%) and responsiveness (47%) in their dealings with businesses. Men and women agree on these top two values, although men value them equally while women rank knowledgeable staff (56%) over a timely response (43%).
When asked to make a direct comparison, U.S. survey participants judged a company's reputation for offering good customer service (45%) as more important than its value for money (37%), and far preferable to low prices (18%). In fact, a full 20% of respondents would be willing to pay up to 5% extra to ensure better service.
The survey results show that a negative customer experience can have a dramatic, irreversible effect. In fact, more than half (52%) of U.S. consumers claim they simply stop doing business with a company after poor service. It can also damage the company's public reputation as 39% say they discuss their unfavorable experiences with family and friends. Bad service also has ripple effects as 21% of respondents say they use social media to share their experience with followers.
The top three most irritating aspects of customer service all reflect the impatient, pressed-for-time American lifestyle: (1) too many automated options before reaching a live agent or resolving the issue (43%), (2) being put on hold for more than 5 minutes (40%), and (3) having to repeat oneself (thus wasting time) due to language/accent misunderstanding (38%).
Survey methodology and demographics
In July 2019, Genesys commissioned research consultancy Vitreous World to conduct separate online surveys in 13 countries: Australia, China/Hong Kong, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S. There were 800 adult respondents in the U.S.A. with a 50/50 gender split. The nationwide U.S. survey has a plus/minus 3.5% margin of error.
Download the slide deck for more insights and methodology details of the 2019 Genesys customer experience survey. Press and analysts in North America may request a full copy of the survey findings from the Genesys media relations team at [email protected].
About Genesys Genesys® powers more than 25 billion of the world's best customer experiences each year. Our success comes from connecting employee and customer conversations on any channel. Every day, 11,000 companies in more than 100 countries trust our #1 customer experience platform to drive great business outcomes and create lasting relationships. Combining the best of technology and human ingenuity, we build solutions that mirror natural communication and work the way you think. Our industry-leading solutions foster true omnichannel engagement because they perform equally well across channels, on-premise and in the cloud. Experience communication as it should be: fluid, instinctive and profoundly empowering. Visit genesys.com on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and the Genesys blog.