90 per cent of shoppers believe that chatbots are effective in providing basic information about a product, service or company, according to research carried out by students of the MSc in Management Consulting at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, on behalf of PwC. A further 44 per cent of shoppers surveyed believe chatbots would be useful for more complex tasks, such as making changes to bank accounts.
The research also revealed that 54 per cent of customers prefer to use text-based communication when contacting a company with a query or complaint. This rises to 70 per cent for 18-24 year olds. 47 per cent expect a 24/7 response from service providers, with the figure rising to 72 per cent amongst 25-34 year olds. 61 per cent of respondents under the age of 24 admit that they actively avoid calling businesses in order to sidestep automated menus. 88 per cent of respondents who are familiar with chatbots were under the age of 34.
In a world of escalating cyber-attacks and data breaches however, privacy concerns could result in wary customers being less willing to share information with a chatbot. 87 per cent of the respondents said that they would be unwilling to share sensitive information with a chatbot due to security concerns.
Speaking at the research launch, Ronan Fitzpatrick, Digital Director, PwC, said: “Chatbots present a significant opportunity for businesses looking to improve sales, automate their services and improve customer relationships. They can enable organisations to engage with their customers in the right place, at the right time with the right information as well as providing certain elements of customer service around the clock. With customer expectations rising, chatbots have the potential to be an excellent solution for better customer engagement. However, data protection and privacy concerns are key areas we need to ensure are addressed.”