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The majority of customers are still communicating with organizations primarily through the use of email and telephone. But some are warming up to the idea of using online chat, with one-third saying they have used this communication channel in the past 12 months. On the other hand, chatbots have yet to fully catch on as a communication channel, with only 13% of the more than 1,000 consumers surveyed by Drift and SurveyMonkey Audience saying they have used a chatbot to communicate with an organization in the past year.

Businesses acknowledge that customers prefer to interact with a human as opposed to a chatbot or virtual assistant, with the number of businesses offering online chat increasing between 2017 and 2018.

The consumers surveyed were more likely to associate various benefits to online chat with a human than to using a chatbot. For half (50%) of the respondents, convenience is one of the benefits they most associate with communicating through online chat, while 42% say the same about chatbots. More consumers associate ease of communication (40%) and a good customer experience (39%) with online chat than with chatbots (25% and 16%, respectively).

In the past, one of the benefits associated with chatbots has been that they provide 24-hour service. In this most recent survey, getting 24-hour service is the one benefit more respondents associated with chatbots (40%) than they did with online chat (32%).

But businesses may wish to consider the ages of their customers when it comes to gauging the usage of chatbots. The majority of Millennial (ages 18-34 years old) respondents say they have been using chatbots more in the past 12 months, compared to only 16% of Baby Boomers (ages 55 years and older) who report using chatbots more in the past year.

While Millennials and Baby Boomers tend to agree on certain benefits of chatbots such as 24-hour service (57% and 54% respectively), getting an instant response (50% and 46%, respectively) and easy communication (41% for both groups), two benefits were enjoyed by more Baby Boomers than the younger generation. More than half (54%) of Baby Boomers expect to enjoy the benefit of having simple questions answered, compared to 46% of Millennials. Two-fifths (40%) of Baby Boomers also enjoy having complaints resolved quickly by chatbots, while about one-third (34%) of Millennials say the same.

To read more, access the full report here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 1,085 adult consumers in the United States. The sample was balanced by age and gender according to the US Census.

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