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Consumer loyalty contingent on human contact, report finds

02 July 2018 - 10:27 by Graham Miller

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A survey from Calabrio has revealed that retailers that offer safe shopping online are more likely to keep customers coming back for more if they give them the option to speak to a real person when they need support.

This suggests that the rise of chat bots is not quite as important or impactful as some industry experts have claimed, with consumers instead favouring the human touch over having their questions handled by a machine.

Three quarters of respondents said that there would be an increased chance of a brand retaining their loyalty if a human representative was available to serve their needs when issues arise.

Fifty eight per cent said that even with chat bots becoming more widespread, questions are still dealt with more accurately and effectively by real customer service staff.

Sixty per cent said that the ability to message or speak to a real person made it easier for them to get across the nature of the obstacle they are facing during a stint of safe shopping online.

Of course chat bots are powered by machine learning algorithms, which means that with every passing second they are becoming better equipped to handle customer service duties automatically and unpick the language used by customers.

In the long term it will become effectively impossible to distinguish between a real customer service representative and an AI-controlled chat bot. There are even services being developed to provide speech-based calling systems which are similarly identical to phone conversations with a real person.

The question of how consumers will respond to this as improvements are made to automated customer services remains open. Younger generations of shoppers will grow up expecting to have access to chat bots, while their older counterparts may find it harder to adapt.