The rise of the chatbot
Love them or loathe them, chatbots are here to stay.
Using artificial intelligence to simulate human interaction is not a new concept, with the first attempts to develop this type of technology dating back to the 1960s. However, the success of online assistants such as Siri and Alexa in the 2010s has paved the way for wider acceptance of AI in many aspects of customer service.
Financial Services organisations have clearly recognised the substantial cost savings chatbots can generate, significantly reducing the amount of human time required to service customer needs.
However, from a customer perspective, will the “24/7 availability of chatbots counterbalance any perceived shortcomings?
In the second quarter of 2023, Savanta asked over 2000 businesses (from start-ups to established businesses with a turnover of £0-1bn) to gather more insights on their recent usage of chatbots in financial services.
Overall, in Q2 2023, nearly one-sixth of businesses (15%) said that they had used a financial services chatbot in the past year. Usage was highest amongst start-up businesses (24%) and dropped by business size (14% for established £0-2m and 11% for £2m+).
Most businesses feel that chatbots are easy to use, with two-thirds (67%) agreeing or agreeing strongly that this is the case. However, nearly one-quarter (23%) disagree, suggesting that the user experience can be frustrating for a notable minority.
Over half of businesses (57%) also agreed that chatbot availability was better than other options. Again however, a notable group disagreed (33%), perhaps due to the variety of other options available to them during their business operating hours.
All other ratings are far less positive, with a higher proportion disagreeing vs agreeing, indicating that there is much work to do to win over customers.
Only 39% of businesses agree or agree strongly that they were happy with their recent experience of using a chatbot, compared to 53% who disagree or disagree strongly. This is a worrying statistic that needs to be improved if chatbots are ever to be truly accepted.
Only just over one-third (38%) felt that the chatbot understood their question, compared to 59% who disagreed or disagreed strongly. This comprehension gap undoubtedly feeds into ratings relating to speed and mimicking human interaction.
Speed performed poorly, with only 35% agreeing or agreeing strongly that the chatbot was quick to resolve the query and 61% disagreeing or disagreeing strongly.
And finally, unsurprisingly, only one-fifth (18%) felt that it was like talking to a real human, compared to nearly three-quarters (73%) who disagreed or disagreed strongly.
What’s next for the chatbot?
With AI improving all the time, there is a major opportunity for providers to gain a competitive edge by getting the chatbot experience right, ultimately ensuring that speed (driven by comprehension) becomes the deciding factor when customers choose how they want to interact.
Chatbots have the potential to play an important and expanding role alongside a suite of more traditional customer contact tools – initially, simply offering a triage service to point customers in the right direction, but ideally progressing to a one-stop shop.
Ensuring a positive user experience for all customers is crucial for increasing their trust and ultimately boosting their satisfaction and usage of chatbots. Savanta offers an extensive range of solutions and techniques covering all aspects of UX. This allows us to help organisations understand the digital experience – seeing and understanding user flow and clickthrough data and providing direction for improved usability.