With all the talk of bots lately, I thought it would be helpful to look at how many consumers globally are engaging in brand interactions in ways that make sense to integrate a customer service bot. First, the best way to think of a bot is as a customer service agent. Companies will look to automate certain processes and provide you with a bot interface to replace a voice automated function or speaking with a human. The clear reality is, humans don’t want to hold phones to their ears to interact with companies for service and support. We would rather text and for good reason.
That being said, most of the market is not engaging with brands this way yet. Part of this has to do with a lack of available ways to do so but this will also require a slight behavioural change. Looking at global data, only 7.3% of consumers have interacted with a brand via a messaging app. Only 14% globally say they chatted with a customer service agent online last quarter. Both numbers increase, but not significantly, when we isolate the answers by millennials.
Looked at on a country by country basis, markets like the US and China bode better but the data, again, does not change dramatically. When it comes to interacting with brands online today, it seems most people either don’t interact with them directly very often and, when they do, it is on the phone.
Trying to find some encouraging points, I looked at whether consumers were interacting with brands on social media. This could be mentioning a brand on Twitter or facebook or asking them a question directly, like a customer support question or something in that vein. Unfortunately, the numbers were not much better with only 11% of global consumers saying they interacted directly with a brand via social media in the past 30 days. Interestingly, the heaviest users of Snapchat, LINE, and WeChat were much more likely to interact with a brand directly either by social media or messaging app.
Overall, as I was looking through the data we have on this subject, my goal was to see what encouraging or discouraging habits we see in action today that suggests chatting with bots, or artificial assistant agents, is a habit that can easily be embraced by the mainstream. As is the thesis of many, the data certainly suggests this practice will be embraced sooner by a younger demographic than other generations.
The real question of mass market adoption of bot agents will be predicated on true natural language support. The same is true for voice assistants so, perhaps, solving one problem will help solve the other. But, looking at the ways bots can be a stepping stone to bringing artificial intelligence to the masses will be an area to keep an eye on.