Editor's Note: While many examples in this piece are geared toward the retail audience, marketers also face these same challenges.
More and more companies are using chatbots to connect quickly with customers, enabling them to handle basic service needs faster and more efficiently. While many businesses and consumers have embraced chatbots and automated features in order to make service inquiries and share personal information, the relationship between customers, chatbots and brands still needs one critical thing to work — the human touch.
Taking a deeper look at how automated technologies play into customer experiences, Voxpro – powered by TELUS International conducted its Voxpro CX Index: At the Corner of Technology and Human Experience (Voxpro CX Index). Surveying 1,000 U.S. consumers, the study sought to determine how people feel about interacting with automated features like chatbots, and to what extent they trust businesses with their personal data. Here we dive into some of the key findings and assess what they mean for retailers — both brick-and-mortar and digital stores — as they look to adopt more technologies for connecting with and tracking their customers.
What the Survey Says
According to the Voxpro CX Index, consumers still want human-to-human interactions when engaging with brands for a variety of needs, from purchases to service requests to sharing feedback on positive and negative experiences. Additionally, consumer trust in sharing personal data with brands still teeters on the fence between acceptance and discomfort. Key survey findings that back these sentiments include:
Connecting With Chatbots
- 68 percent of consumers still haven’t used chatbots to contact a brand;
- 56 percent of consumers haven’t used chat or automated features because they prefer experiences with real people; and
- 49 percent of customers would use automation or chat features for information gathering, but prefer speaking with an agent for issue resolution.
Trust in Keeping User Data Safe
- 21 percent of consumers trust brands with their personal information;
- 45 percent of consumers don’t want brands storing their information due to concern over data breaches or hacks; and
- 14 percent of consumers have never shared their personal information with a brand.
What This Means
When it comes to customer experience in retail, these findings show that success in reaching consumers centers on striking the right balance between technology and human interaction. The human touch is still a highly valued tool for brands to drive positive customer experiences, with consumers still gravitating towards live agents to handle more complicated requests and service needs. Retailers need to focus their efforts on a balanced approach that incorporates technology into their service offerings, and plan for how that technology works to support their human agents.
Additionally, retail brands need to be more transparent about how they're using, storing and sharing customer data. Data breaches and hacks from this year alone — Under Armour, Adidas, and Saks and Lord & Taylor all come to mind — appear to be a contributing factor for heightened consumer fears of having personal information stolen from the brands they trust. Implementing consumer transparency measures and educating both internal teams and customers on these policies is a first step to regaining customer trust. This is particularly important for a company that has already been the victim of a data breach or hack.
The retail market is undergoing rapid change. However, as more brands implement digital channels and various technologies to help them connect with current and potential customers, they shouldn't lose focus on the need to balance these technologies with human interaction and the importance of implementing practices for transparency and education — both internally and externally. There’s still more work to be done on both of these fronts and it will be interesting to see what future data may tell us as the retail market continues to evolve.
Brian Hannon is the chief commercial officer at Voxpro - powered by TELUS International, a global customer experience outsourcer.
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