A new report from Publicis Media finds that consumer chatbot usage has reached 54% of consumers globally. As brands increasingly embrace "chatbots" as conversational interfaces with customers and prospects, the report examines potential opportunities and challenges with the AI-driven platforms.
The report finds that consumer expectations have not been met. When first time users think of chatbots, they hope for a highly personalized experience with natural back and forth conversation, yet the majority of chatbots in the marketplace are scripted bots and do not yet use the full power of AI.
PM cautions many chabots fall into "relationship pitfalls" by coming off as too “pushy” or one-sided in their initial interactions. In fact, the company states, CRM-type conversational rules haven’t changed much over the decades. Motivational speaker Dale Carnegie's recommendations in 1936 to "be a good listener” and “ask questions the other person will enjoy answering” are still the principles to follow when designing a conversational interface with customers.When a chatbot experience is truly friction-free — meaning it is perceived as easy to use, helpful and fun — it has been shown to drive significant increases in brand preference metrics. For example, with friction-free experiences, there is an increase of 8% of those likely to recommend using chatbots, per PM’s research.
It is also critical to manage functionality expectations upfront to minimize user frustration. When a chatbox works well, consumers feel closer to brands. Positive chatbot experiences lifted emotional connections to brands by 19% which was on par with mobile websites (+16%) although behind apps (+30%).
The research also provides advice on specific categories, including entertainment and health-focused brands. Shopper-geared consumers, for instance, are drawn to chatbots. It can be damaging to a brand to disappoint shoppers with “shopbots” that are nothing more than a path to a mobile website. This question of relevance and utility is especially important given how entrenched current mobile technologies are in a customer’s journey.
A common pitfall of many commerce chatbots is that they treat the experience as another point-of-purchase touchpoint, focusing more on buying rather than shopping. These failed attempts often manifest as an inferior version of the web/app purchase experience masquerading as a “helpful” chatbot.
Shoppers are drawn to chatbots to overcome analysis paralysis and for their perceived ability to serve as highly knowledgeable sales assistants who are available 24/7, the PM report asserts.
The PM analysis advises marketers to evaluate four key points regarding their chatbot-readiness: What part of the customer experience is the chatbot designed to impact? How will the chatbot be better or different than existing paths to that same information? Will the chatbot live within a brand touchpoint or external platform? Do brands have the data and existing content to for the chatbot, or will it have to be created/licensed?
More from this study can be found here.