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8 in 10 Asian consumers prefer speaking to human agents to chatbots

Anuradha Shukla | Sept. 18, 2017
Today’s bots are still unable to deal with complex request, deliver personalised offers and understand human emotions well, according to Amdocs’ study.

Android with chat bubbles
Credit: GraphicStock

Asian consumers have slammed clunky chatbots and told communications and media service providers how to make them better in a new study that Amdocs commissioned to Forrester Consulting.

The survey captured the views of customers of communications and media service providers in Asia on the best way to use artificial intelligence (AI) for customer care and commerce.

Consumers said that most bots today are not able to deal with complex requests, deliver personalised offers, as well as understand human emotions.

Almost a third (31 percent) of consumers in Asia interact with virtual agents at least once a week because it is more convenient (46  percent) and quicker (46 percent). Nearly half (47  percent) said they interact with chatbots only because they had no other options.

If offered a choice, 83 percent preferred speaking to a human since human agents better understand their needs (81 percent) and could address multiple questions at once (60 percent).

"Consumers have a good sense of how bots can serve them, better-developed than perhaps the industry's. Their level of frustration with today's bots is striking; a third even said they will take their business elsewhere if the poor service continues," said Gary Miles, general manager at Amdocs.

"The good news is that consumers actually believe that if anyone can get AI right, the communications and media industry can. And that's ahead of banks and retailers. So AI could be a winning gambit for service providers as long as they sync up their AI investment priorities with what customers actually want," he added.


Bots should look like a humans

Nearly half (48 percent) of consumers wanted bots to look like a human, as opposed to 20 percent who wanted to see an avatar. Although 43 percent of consumers did not care either way, 42 percent preferred them to be female, rather than male (15 percent).

Sounding polite, intelligent, and caring were the top personality traits that consumers expect from bots, followed by fully customisable and funny.

Sounding serious and authoritative ranked much lower than other attributes, with only 14 percent and 12 percent of consumers respectively saying they would appreciate these attributes in a bot.

The study also found that service providers in Asia are not investing in the areas where customers rank as top areas for improvements for bots. Almost a third (31 percent) of service providers were creating avatar images for their bots while consumers prefer human-like images.

In addition, 56 percent of service them were building their bots to sound serious and about 24 percent wanted their bots to sound authoritative.


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