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Humans V Chatbots: The Modern Customer Journey

by Zoe McGovern | 04.07.2016
Customer service issues: they’ve come a long way from that tiny desk located in the smallest back-end corner of the store. No longer do we drag ourselves into cities only to hear from monotone staff members how our receipt is one day out of date or to realise we’ve brought the wrong credit card with us. These days all it takes is a simple social handle and 140 characters to get to make things right again. But can our digital equivalents really be as amazing as they seem?

According to Group M, one in four people are genuinely more trusting of a chatbot with their personal information than a human. I know as well as you do that we are living in a (very) digital age but should we draw the line when it comes to human/AI interaction? I’ll hold my hands up and admit I often find it easier to ask online. Last week I went out of my way to book a table online as opposed to calling the pub, not because my palms get sweaty at the sheer thought of speaking with a stranger, but merely because it was the first thing to come to mind. The digitalisation of our lives has led to a shift in how we think and resolve. We want the quickest and easiest solution. No queues please!

The ‘Humanity in the Machine’ report, which Group M ran, found that 63% of people would consider communicating with a chatbot to contact a business or brand. Fair enough. The report also found that 48% of us also feel it’s “creepy” for a machine to pretend it’s a human, but the reality is that chatbots are becoming hugely popular in digital marketing, and it’s vital that brands embrace becoming an “experience business”. Facebook recently updated its Messenger features, meaning chatbots can now link to an account to make personalised suggestions. “Oh you liked that book, right? How about your read THIS book? No, don’t worry, you don’t need to go look for it, we’ve done that for you!” Simple, easy and effective. Move over redirecting, the chatbot age is well and truly in full swing. Read more about Messenger bots here.

The logic behind why so many brands and businesses are now turning to an AI-led customer service is due to ever-changing and ever-rising customer expectations. Brands must improve the experiences their customers endure in order to maintain customer trust and brand advocacy. Where social media gives the customer the driving seat, chatbots are allowing brands to (sort of) take back some of the control, even if it is through a creepy, fake human. Like it or not, this is the direction our online customer journey has taken and now is the time to embrace it. After all, who wants to wait in line in store? Just send that Tweet, sit back and let the digital magic happen.

Here is Tug’s insight into Bixby – Samsung’s intelligent voice assistant.