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Chatbot technology has the power to revolutionize the customer service experience. These bots are always available and they can access and process information far faster than humans can. They are, however, still developing and improving, and there’s more that needs to be done before they can fully win the trust of consumers.

How consumers feel about chatbots

As chatbots have become more commonplace over the past few years, there have been a lot of questions about whether or not consumers want this technology and whether they will feel comfortable relying on it to solve their problems.

With any new technology, a certain level of consumer trepidation is to be expected. However, recent survey data indicates that consumers are interacting with chatbots when they’re given the opportunity and that many consumers find them useful for answering questions and solving simple problems. In fact, as many as 70% of survey respondents in one study said they preferred to use a chatbot for simpler interactions with companies. Bot usage is on the rise, and the all-important millennial demographic in particular feels more comfortable relying on chatbots.

How chatbots can win consumers over

That said, chatbot technology is still evolving and there are still issues with performance. Consumers remain wary of trusting chatbots to help them with more complex tasks. Some have had frustrating experiences with chatbots that are incapable of solving the problem at hand or properly escalating it. These negative experiences, even if isolated, have the effect of diminishing trust in the technology as a whole.

In order to win consumer trust, chatbots need to be able to provide a handful of key elements when serving customers:

Accurate responses

The reason that, so far, consumers state a preference for using chatbots only to complete relatively simple tasks and answer straightforward queries is likely at least in part out of fear that the bot will get it wrong when it comes to carrying out more complex tasks. Therefore the most important thing a chatbot needs to be is accurate. Providing complete, precise, and accurate responses reliably is a chatbot’s primary responsibility.

Time savings

A close second to accuracy is convenience. In the modern world, where the tremendous focus is placed on speed and efficiency, it’s no surprise that consumers want to use chatbots in order to save time. One huge benefit of deploying a chatbot for customer service is that it’s a cost-effective way to have service available to consumers 24/7. But in order to make chatbots a truly useful resource, they need to be able to resolve questions and issues at least as quickly as humans can.

Natural-sounding interactions

The more capable a chatbot is of mirroring the conversational language consumers use, the better. This means chatbots need to be able to understand the context that surrounds a conversation and informs the consumer’s responses. Ideally, the bot should be able to remember things that were said earlier in the conversation and use that information to inform later responses. This is how humans interact, and it’s essential to a positive consumer experience with a chatbot.

Ability to escalate

In a perfect world, chatbots would be able to handle every customer service issue that came their way. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world, and it’s inevitable that bots will eventually get thrown a question they are not yet equipped to handle. That’s why they need the ability to quickly escalate the issue to a service representative. Chatbots that can’t answer a question or meet a demand should not continue turning the customer in circles but instead, quickly and seamlessly redirect them.

What businesses need to know

Investment in building and deploying a chatbot cannot be haphazard if it’s to deliver results. There are a number of core attributes that chatbots need to embody before consumers will trust them to manage complex customer service issues. Businesses should invest in building bots that can disprove consumer fears and concerns about the technology by providing accurate responses in an encounter that feels natural.