57% of consumers feel threatened by chatbots. Who cares?

Chatbots are everywhere. Yet, consumers are nonplussed. In August 2019, Trustpilot conducted a survey where more than 1,800 French respondents were asked a series of multiple-choice questions with random response options. They used the Hotjar survey tool to conduct the survey. The questions were posted on Trustpilot’s French site, for anyone who looked for a company page profile and scrolled down the page. Similar surveys were conducted in other selected European markets. We provide some of the numbers per below. I have interviewed Trustpilot’s Brahim Ben Helal, Director of Strategic Development to find out more about this survey.

The brave new world of customer service through the implementation of chatbots clearly isn’t living up to its promise. What is obvious, by looking at the numbers provided by the Trustpilot survey, is that consumers are unimpressed by the way that e-merchants have implemented these “new” tools (which, by the way, aren’t very new since I’ve known them for at least 20 years in various shapes or forms).TRUSTPILOT CHATBOTS SURVEY RESULTS

Yet another sign that technology isn’t a silver bullet. As a matter of fact, chatbots could very well deliver the right service, which is expected by consumers. It’s only a matter of improving them continually, of ensuring that the service is delivered. Our most observant readers will have noticed, however, that Amazon hasn’t made one available on its website.

Nonetheless, and regardless of what consumers think, it seems that Gartner, according to Brahim, has good news for chatbot designers. Who cares about good customer service anyway? Apart from Amazon, of course.

38% of respondents answered that they do not trust chatbots, can you clarify and explain why?

38% of our French Trustpilot respondents said they do not trust chatbots as much as a human customer support person. The rationale behind that can differ from person to person, but it seems that they’re not as satisfied with the kind of assistance they are getting from a chat as that which they get from human beings.

We now live in an era where customer support is of utmost importance. Consumer expectations, choice of products, and empowerment are all, unlike anything the world has seen before. Consumers want to shape the world and have a great experience at all times. So, if your customer support boils down to click-through rate, you run the risk of losing touch with your customers, as they are looking for a unique and positively human experience that would make a difference.

19.6% of respondents (1802) answered that they are so suspicious of chatbots that they stop buying online from merchants who have set up a chatbot, this is an incredibly high number! 

We’ve not asked the respondents what their distrust originates from, but clearly, a large group of people is looking for a personalised experience. As to other countries, here are the numbers:

  • German – 29.6%
  • Dutch – 30.9%
  • Swedish – 21.5%
  • Italian – 13.9%

57% of your survey respondents (1249 respondents) even consider themselves threatened by the existence of chatbots.

Almost 50% of Italian consumers and nearly 54% of Dutch consumers feel threatened by chatbots replacing customer care too. Conversely, 52% of German consumers and more than 50% of Swedish consumers do not feel threatened.

Is all this due to chatbots themselves or the poor quality of their design?

The poll is referred to chatbots in general and does not differentiate between various platforms or designs. Thus, we can’t really tell whether the poor results originate from their design or anything else.

Should we conclude from this study that chatbots’ future is the scrapheap?

What we should conclude from this survey is the importance of businesses treating their customers like human beings.

Chatbots are getting more and more popular for good reasons: cost reduction, fast-paced and customised customer care, availability, etc.

These are just a few reasons why chatbots are getting more and more popular for online shops. Furthermore, experts are predicting that 2019 will be the year of chatbots: the research and consulting firm Gartner predicts that, by the end of this year, 85 per cent of customer contact will be covered by chatbots and machine learning applications.

But clearly, the human factor still plays a vital role in the customer service interaction. Companies should work on creating ever-improving customer experiences to connect with consumers. They want to be heard and share their opinion to shape their CX. The key differentiator for leading brands of the world is, therefore, focusing on openness and radical transparency, treating their customers like humans rather than eyeballs.

Trustpilot survey infographic

We have designed a wee infographic summing up the results from the survey. It can be downloaded from the Piktochart Website directly.

Trustpilot survey results

Do you trust a chatbot as much as a customer service employee? (1802 respondents)

  • Yes, I even trust the machine more (5.5%)
  • Yes, I don’t see the difference (11.5%)
  • No, I don’t trust chatbots at all (38%)
  • No, I am so suspicious of it that I no longer make purchases from merchants who only use chatbots (19.6%)
  • I don’t know (25.4%)

Do you think that chatbots can completely replace humans? (1277 respondents)

  • Yes, they even do a better job (2.5%)
  • Yes, they are or will be just as efficient as humans (5.2%)
  • No, they will never be smart enough (27.3%)
  • No, they lack the human factor (53.6%)
  • I don’t know (11.4%)

Do you feel threatened by the fact that chatbots can totally replace customer service? (1249 respondents)

  • Yes (56.8%)
  • No (28.3%)
  • I don’t know (14.9%)

On average, during previous interactions with a chatbot, were you satisfied? (1087 respondents)

  • Yes, I quickly got the answer to my question (7%)
  • Yes, I was quickly redirected to the person who was able to solve my problem. (6.3%)
  • No, I stopped the discussion quickly (26.9%)
  • No, the chatbot didn’t have the answer to my specific problem (34.8%)
  • I have not yet interacted with a chatbot (13.1%)
  • I don’t know (12%)
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Yann Gourvennec

CEO & Founder at Visionary Marketing
Yann has a long-standing experience in marketing, information systems and Web marketing. He created visionarymarketing.com in 1996 and since then, he has practiced Web strategy, e-business and Web communications in the field. He was a member of socialmedia.org from 2008 till 2013. He is a lecturer, a keynote speaker, an author and blogger. In early 2014, he went from intrapreneur to entrepreneur when he founded his digital marketing agency Visionary Marketing.
Yann Gourvennec
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