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Online Shoppers Admit to Being Cheesed Off by Chatbots

19 December 2018 - 09:50 by Graham Miller

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Although chatbots are increasingly common on sites that offer safe shopping online, their effectiveness has been called into question by a new study from Acquia which found that 45 per cent of people are put off by this type of automated customer service solution.

When asked to explain why chatbots and similar AI-controlled retail platforms are not an ideal option, nearly four out of five respondents to the study said that they felt the personal touch was lacking from such an approach.

Study spokesperson Sylvia Jensen said that there was clearly a widening gap between what shoppers expect from an e-commerce experience and what retailers are willing to do to meet those expectations.

The attractiveness of chatbots from a business perspective is obvious: it is cheaper to automate replies to customer questions rather than having to employ someone to do this. Furthermore, a chatbot can be scaled to account for higher volumes of use, whereas it can be tricky to balance staffing levels appropriately to achieve the same thing.

The issue that consumers face comes down to the fact that chatbots are far from perfect, even if they are getting smarter and more responsive all the time. So long as customers are capable of wording their query in a way that the automated software can decipher, a bot can actually be quicker and easier to use than a traditional customer support service stewarded by humans.

What retailers need to do is ensure that this outcry over the lack of personalisation and personality is addressed. Chatbots can feel bland and generic, failing to take into account the unique needs of a given consumer, which is something that has to be addressed in order to ensure that levels of dissatisfaction do not increase.