Do People Prefer Automated Customer Service?

Do People Prefer Automated Customer Service?

When you look for customer support, do you prefer automated customer support or a human response? In other words, do you prefer chatbots, self-service options, and directories, or a live chat with human agents?

You may have mixed feelings about this. If you’re like most people, it’s hard to treat this as a strictly binary decision.

There are some situations where automated customer service is not only acceptable, but preferred – and there are some situations in which it seems easier and more reassuring to speak with a support agent. It’s a complicated question.

Most companies recognize the enormous benefits of using automation technology to augment their customer service team. When you integrate artificial intelligence powered customer service automation, that means you can serve more customer issues simultaneously in real time, save money on additional support team hiring cost, and worry less about the consistency of the services you provide by automating the repetitive tasks, and improving the response times for requests.

But the essential question in this article is about consumer preferences: Do people prefer automated customer service to meet their needs?

The Appeal of Automated Service - Supercharging Customer Experience

About 67 percent of customers used chatbots in 2018, and the number of customers using AI Virtual Assistants has been steadily growing ever since. More companies are turning to Conversational AI solutions as their preferred method of providing service.

There are several reasons customers prefer automated customer service, including:

  • Speed. One of the biggest advantages for customers when they use an automated customer service is speed. Chatbots and other automated tools are highly scalable, and capable of serving millions of people simultaneously. Customers don’t have to wait on hold indefinitely, they don’t have to wait in line, and they don’t find themselves watching their email for 48 hours to see a response. Instead, they can start chatting and getting answers immediately.
  • Efficiency with basic queries. For basic queries, there’s no beating automated customer service. With a quick search, or a few lines of chat, your automated system can render an easy answer and provide your customer with all the information they need to resolve the issue. This is highly streamlined and efficient.
  • Less pressure. People feel less pressure when they interact with automated systems. They can multitask while keeping a chat window open and explore customer service options at their own speed. Talking on the phone or speaking directly with a customer service rep demands more attention, greater formality, and quicker responses.
  • Faster resolution. For most inquiries, automated customer service resolves issues faster. Due to a combination of factors, such as reduced wait time, quicker responses, and more efficient solutions, customers tend to resolve matters much faster with automated services than with real people.

The Appeal of Human Service - Elevating Customer Interactions

According to some surveys, up to 86 percent of customers prefer human service over interactions with chat bots. There are various reasons why many customers prefer human service, including:

  • “Real” experiences. Some people feel disconnected when they have to engage with chat bots and other automated tools. They prefer what they describe as “real” experiences. Talking to a human customer service representative makes your brand seem more responsive and the experience is more pleasant for many people.
  • Sympathy and empathy. You can simulate sympathy and empathy with a chat bot, but it’s hard to fake realistically. Human beings tend to be better at providing an honest emotional response.
  • Complex problem resolution. Some inquiries are too strange or complicated for simple automated systems to handle. For complicated requests, a human customer service agent may be more effective.

Individual Differences in Preferences - What Customers Expect

We also ought to acknowledge that individuals will have varying preferences, based on a number of factors. In today’s age of big data and fine-tuned market research, it’s silly to attempt to describe all “customers” generically.

People vary based on:

  • Age. Not surprisingly, we see distinctions in preference across different age groups. As people get older, they tend to prefer human service, while younger clients prefer automated customer service. There are several potential explanations, including the fact that older people may be less familiar with the technology and more accustomed to human interactions for resolving issues. It remains to be seen whether this is truly a reflection of age, or more of a byproduct of contrasting generations and personal philosophies.
  • General disposition. People may also vary in preference based on their general disposition and personality. People who are social and outgoing might be more inclined to talk with a human, because they genuinely enjoy conversation. People who prefer to remain independent and others who are annoyed by conversation may see human interaction as a chore, and lean more toward automated customer service.
  • Historical experience. We also must bear in mind the impact of historical experience. If a customer has had a poor experience with an antiquated chat bot on another company’s website, he or she may be less likely to respond positively to an automated customer service function on your website. Similarly, if a person has repeatedly struggled to get the service they need from a human, they may elect to use automated customer service as often as they can.
  • Nature of inquiry. An individual may prefer human service or automated service based on the nature of their inquiry. If they have a simple question or need a simple issue taken care of, automated customer service may be perfectly acceptable. But if their issue is complicated, and the automated customer service platform doesn’t seem capable of solving it, they may prefer to talk to a human, rather than waste time trying to navigate the automated arena.

The Best Strategy: Multi-touch Customer Service Processes

So what’s the best strategy for you? Clearly, there are advantages to either automated customer service or human customer service.

There are also people in your audience who will strongly prefer automated customer service and others who would rather get human customer service. The best way to capture the full advantages of both strategic directions is to include both as part of your comprehensive customer service processes strategy.

Conversational AI and automated customer service should be integral parts of your modern customer service strategy. If you’re looking for new solutions to help you boost the power and appeal of your automated customer service, you’re in the right place.

Schedule a demo of our AI-powered customer service technology today!

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