In the first Chatbot Trends Report, Intercom reports that customers expect to encounter a chatbot on websites but still prefer working with other humans.

The survey asked 1,000 consumers and business leaders about opinions on chatbots and the most common uses for the communications platform. The survey found that 87% of consumers would rather talk to a human. Only 15% of respondents preferred a bot.

Humans prefer humans because of the ability to understand complex situations and answer a variety of questions. Twenty-five percent of consumers in the survey have no bias either way, as long as they get an answer to their question. Bots also got points for being always on and pointing customers to the right team.

SEE: Chatbot trends: How organizations are leveraging AI chatbots (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

In Gartner Hype Cycle for Customer Service and Support Technologies, 2019, Gartner puts chatbots at the peak of inflated expectations and predicts that the technology will reach a plateau in the next two to five years.

Gartner reports that chatbots are the most common use of artificial intelligence in organizations. Gartner predicts that as chatbots learn more about a company’s users, “the use cases for the technology will expand to aid onboarding, training, productivity, and efficiency.” This will change how customer service is provided and affect the number of human customer service agents a company will need.

According to the Intercom survey, companies most often use chatbots to take care of administrative tasks such as routing questions to the right team, booking product demos, qualifying sales leads, and engaging website visitors.

The survey found that bots were most helpful to sales organizations, increasing sales by an average of 67%, with 26% of all sales starting through a chatbot interaction. Intercom reports that the top three sales uses cases are: collecting information and qualifying leads, booking product demos, and engaging website visitors.

The survey of 1,000 people found that B2C companies were more likely to be satisfied with chatbot solutions, most likely because consumer questions are more repetitive and less complex than queries from business users.

SEE: Special report: Harnessing IoT in the enterprise (free PDF)

Industries that reported the highest levels of satisfaction with chatbot were:

  • Technology – 73%
  • Retail – 67%
  • Manufacturing – 57%
  • Healthcare – 56%

Intercom recommends businesses selecting a chatbot should look for these criteria:

  • Works seamlessly between sales, marketing, and support
  • Does more than ask visitors questions
  • Respects customers’ time by being helpful, not distracting or annoying

Intercom worked with an independent market research firm to survey a random sample of 500 consumers and 500 business leaders. The study’s margin of error is ±4.1% at the 95% confidence level for the consumer study and ±4.3% at the 95% confidence level for the business leader study.

Founded in 2011, Intercom sells a business messaging platform that lets sales, marketing, and support teams connect with each other and talk to customers.

Intercom asked a mix of business leaders and consumers about the best use for chatbots on a website.
Image: Intercom