Somewhere along the way, the hype around conversational bots turned into a stable trend and the trend into a solid, well-received marketing strategy. You have likely come across chatbot statistics that swept you off your feet be it positively or negatively.
Some stats seem to show incredible engagement and conversion rates; others highlight utter consumer frustration with rigid undeveloped bots.
Where is the truth?
More importantly, how does your small/medium business fits into this mishmash of tech advancements and marketing revolutions?
What can bots do for your customers? Your employees? Your business?
Are chatbots the right choice for you strategically as well as financially?
This article will investigate all of these aspects, serving you with a chatbot report that attacks the issue on all fronts.
So, let’s get started!
If you want to understand something truly, you gotta dig all the way to the roots.
In the case of chatbots, these roots are made of messaging/chatting/texting – whatever you want to call it.
However, the principle is the same: Send and receive information instantly and conveniently without the formal fluff and delay.
The history of messaging & messaging apps is short.
The history of messaging & messaging apps in business is even shorter.
Yet, it’s so intertwined with our daily lives and experiences; we can’t imagine living without it.
So, originally a way to communicate with friends and family turned into an easy way to communicate with businesses.
Facebook IQ surveyed users across four major markets and found that a significant majority of people who use messaging apps like Facebook Messenger also use them to talk to businesses.
Therefore, when it comes to communication format, chat bots are hardly introducing anything new (unless you have a generous budget and the guts to create a voice assistant 😳).
Worth pointing out is the fact consumers in emerging markets are notably more likely to message businesses as opposed to those in mature markets.
This trend is likely a consequence of messaging apps being the most affordable and reliable form of communication for both consumers and businesses.
For instance, one of Facebook’s WhatsApp success stories features Tokopedia, the largest online marketplace in Indonesia. The company added WhatsApp to its one-time password validation channels in the hope of increasing its authentication success rate. They and achieved a 58% higher delivery rate as opposed to SMS.
Not only is the number of people who message business growing, but the attitudes toward this form of communication are very positive.
In fact, a strong majority of people who message businesses today expect to do so more in the future.
The expectation is not limited to customer service but also extends to making purchases.
Messaging: Business Perspective
Businesses too began recognizing the power of messaging as a marketing and sales channel, and many are leveraging real-time messaging to communicate their agenda.
In its 2017 survey, Drift found that the industries that have warmed up to the idea the most are Internet Software & Services, Consulting and Education:
The survey also shed light on which departments/people within the companies take advantage of messaging. While sales and marketing departments are clearly leading the way, the trend penetrates various departments.
In fact, CEOs, owners, founders, and presidents of companies are not shying away from it either.
When it comes to business size, small to medium-size businesses are actually dominating the adoption race.
The leadership of smaller companies in messaging adoption is not surprising since such businesses need to be creative to compete with the big fish. Hence, implementing new strategies and trying new approaches is their best chance to differentiate and create memorable customer experiences.
So, it’s pretty clear that messaging and messaging apps are doing really well in the realm of business. The concept appeals to companies and consumers alike.
Why not just stick to messaging then?
Well, if you don’t have enough employees or team members to keep the “instant” in instant messaging, the whole thing falls apart pretty… instantaneously 😂.
The reason why messaging apps marketing is getting such traction these days IS chatbots… it’s thanks to these imaginary virtual beings businesses can be there 24/7 and automate without losing the “human” touch.
And so, the interest in chatty bots exploded in 2016, bringing about a whole new domain of marketing & sales strategies. Google Trends doesn’t lie.
Combining messaging format with a friendly personal assistant that never gets tired or grumpy looked like a miracle cure to problems with the traditional online experiences.
Drift report (2018) identified the top problems as sites being hard to navigate, information hard to find (even the simple one), slow response times, badly designed online forms, and more.
Conversational bots promise a 24-hour service that brings the information you seek on a silver platter while gathering your data to help the business understand you better.
Because there is always a BUT.
The big question is… if we switch human representatives for virtual personas, do consumer attitudes remain the same? Does business adoption maintain the same level of enthusiasm?
Only the latest chatbot stats can tell us!
So, let’s look at bot stats that focus on how consumers perceive and judge this slightly futuristic turn of events.
However, let’s do so constructively.
The Bots Accepted Yet?
According to a chatbot statistic published by Statista, in 2017, consumers still weren’t entirely warmed up to the idea of conversing with an AI software… Retail seemed to get away with it, but even so, the acceptance level only managed to rise to 34%.
That doesn’t bode well for chatbots.
But only at first glance…
For starters, not all bots are AI, and AI in 2017 sucked. It’s not hard to imagine why people had some reservations about the issue. After all, it’s 2019, and AI bots are still easily confused – they are MUCH better but still kind of dumb.
So did it get better?
When 2018 rolled around and a test group in another survey (NewVoiceMedia), when given a choice, preferred to be connected with a human over a bot.
The same survey found out that the idea of bots overtaking customer service ENTIRELY made most people unhappy!!!
So… We should believe that acceptance levels are not getting better?
What horrific news for bots 😱.
OR it would be horrific news if the questions above weren’t completely irrelevant to chatbot business use to begin with.
Firstly, it’s quite natural that when given a choice between speaking to a human agent and a bot, most people would select the human option. The point is that, in most cases, speaking to a human is involves a significant delay or is downright IMPOSSIBLE.
Secondly, bots overtaking ALL customer service interactions would involve huge socio-economic and cultural implications and change of the world as we know it.
Of course, it’s scary, and nobody likes it!
But it’s also far-fetched and has nothing to do with using chatbots as part of your business strategy today.
So, when looking at bot statistics, be careful.
Are Consumers Willing to Use Bots?
Other questions asked by the same NewVoiceMedia survey shed a bit more light on the situation.
Despite the negative perceptions expressed above, chatbot adoption statistics show 60% of consumers surveyed did communicate with a bot in the last 12 months.
And when asked if they would be willing to speak to a chatbot regarding a customer service issue, almost half agreed!
When Is It OK vs. NOT OK to Use a Bot?
So the question is not whether people prefer human agent over a bot but whether they are happy to talk to a bot when a human is not available.
It’s smarter to focus on finding out which areas chatbots can be more effective than online chat, email, or a phone call.
For instance, NewVoiceMedia asked consumers if there are areas where they would feel uncomfortable dealing with a bot. Most people expressed worries when it came to complex financial transactions and health issues.
However, in other domains like customer service, chatbots are becoming widely accepted (even when it comes to banking):
In fact, we are getting to a point where, in some situations, consumers prefer to deal with a bot over a human.
For example, customers don’t seem to have a problem buying an item via a bot conversation. This incidentally lines up with Facebook IQ stats where users claimed they expected to make more purchases via a messaging channel. Also, using a bot to pay a bill or make a reservation are gaining popularity.
Consumer Predicted Chatbot Use & Benefits
These results are further cemented by consumer prediction regarding chatbot use in the future. Consumers see bots offering quick answers in emergencies, resolving complaints, connecting people with human agents, paying bills and shopping, etc.
When asked about bots’ key benefits, the surveyed consumers in both studies (Drift & NewVoiceMedia) agreed that the top advantage is a 24-hour service. Answers to simple questions and quick responses were the next on the list of most expected benefits.
Consumers start to be aware of potential bot benefits that overlap across studies.
NEW VOICE MEDIA:
Today, chatbots are the second communication channel consumers most associate with an instant response – just 2% behind online chat:
Existing Chatbot-use Challenges for Consumers
Nevertheless, for bots to become generally accepted, businesses and bot designers must face and manage both negative preconceptions people still have about chatbots and various technical difficulties.
According to a survey of US consumers by eMarketer in 2018, people perceive the following as the main issues when dealing with bots:
Consumer Attitudes: What to Conclude?
Chatbot tech is getting better and better, and consumers are becoming more and more willing to speak to bots.
It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that this shift in consumer behavior is partly due to an uncontested global rise and acceptance of messaging as the most convenient form of communication.
While people aren’t ready to trust a bot in some areas, the scale has longed tipped in their favor in others. Consumers are happy to complete small purchases or receive customer support from a bot.
It’s faster & convenient.
Nonetheless, tech development still has a long way to go, and businesses have much to learn.
Firstly, Natural Language Processing AI is nowhere near finished, and it will be a few years before it stops driving consumers crazy.
Secondly, even bots that do not rely on AI, such as rule-based and choice-based alternatives, need to see improvement in terms of conversational design. In other words, just because a bot is not using AI, it doesn’t mean it cannot feel natural.
Thirdly, businesses and marketers must continue to educate consumers about chatbots’ role in their customer journey. It’s the only way to eliminate faulty prejudices and preconceptions such as “chatbot keeps me from speaking with a live person.”
In fact, all of the “challenges” that came up in the chatbot stat from eMarketer result from either bad software design, bad conversation design, or a negative mindset to begin with.
All in all, slowly but surely, bots are winning over consumers’ hearts because they offer automation with a human touch.
We know how consumers feel about chatbots, but what about business?
How many of them are getting in on the trend?
Which industries are taking the lead?
Well, let’s find out!
Which Types of Businesses are Using Bots?
In 2018, Relay took a closer look at the companies with a chatbot on their website or landing page. According to the survey, internet software companies are most likely to be using a bot on their website. Curiously, retail bots are not as common as one would guess.
When it comes to the type of companies that do have a chatbot, B2B businesses take a slight lead making up 58% of the sample.
The same survey also found that the vast majority of businesses with a bot have under 50 employees. It’s hardly surprising! Smaller companies often have to reach new, accessible technologies to make up for the smaller budget and lower employee numbers.
Innovation happens when taking the easy way is out of the question!
Another 2018 bot statistics by Spiceworks looked into which departments within a company used bots to support their tasks.
Consumers are most aware of chatbots as a shopping and customer service. However, according to the survey, the departments that seem to be relying on bot support most are, in fact, IT. Still, it’s crucial to keep in mind this particular survey took into account intelligent assistants and AI bots.
Still, it’s pretty obvious bots are making their way into all divisions.
If you weren’t sure before about why chatbots are the future, this is it. Conversational technology is incredibly flexible in its application and able to automate tedious tasks without sacrificing the quality of customer experience and human touch.
Bots are beginning to substitute:
- Research surveys
- Online forms
- Digital business “front desks”
- Order & payment UIs
- Recruitment forms
Bots According to Employees
By allowing chatbots to take care of more trivial problems or gathering basic information, the hands of human employees are free to focus on more demanding tasks.
For example, imagine a bot asks 4-5 simple questions to assess what the query is about. If unable to answer, the bot directs the customer to a relevant department along with the collected information. No being passed around from person to person!
According to a survey by Statista, chatbots made most customer service agents feel more valuable to the company as they spent their time solving complex tasks and handling meaningful customer interactions.
Business Perspective: Conclusion
Chatbot stats leave little doubt that more and more businesses are beginning to turn their attention to conversational experiences. This trend is likely to grow, especially as bot creating becomes more accessible and, with the rise of no-code bot-building platforms, even easy.
Despite that, chatbots remain a relative novelty and offer businesses a valuable opportunity to differentiate from the competition in today’s experience economy.
How Big is the Chatbot Market?
Well, according to the “Chatbot Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2019 – 2024)” by Research and Markets, the GLOBAL chatbot market was worth $ 1.274 Billion in 2018 and is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 34.75%, reaching $ 7.591 Billion by 2024.
A study by GrandViewResearch predicted that by 2025, the US chatbot industry alone would reach the value of $ 1.25 Billion – beating the global chatbot market value of 2018:
According to the chatbot statistics, it looks like this market has no intention of halting its growth. Instead, it brings along a plethora of opportunities.
So, are you ready to give it a try?
- 3 Ways Messaging Is Transforming the Path to Purchase – Facebook IQ
- Why Messaging Businesses is the New Normal – Facebook IQ
- Acceptance of artificial intelligence chatbots 2017 – Statista
- Share of customer service agents opinion about chatbots, March 2017 – Statista
- “Chatbot” Search – Google Trends
- The State of Chatbots Report, 2018 – Drift
- Bot Market Analysis By End User, By Application/Business Model, By Type, By Product Landscape, By Vertical, By Region, 2018-2025 – GrandViewResearch
- Survey 2018: Are Customers Ready to Trade Live Conversation for Bots? – NewVoiceMedia
- Conversational Commerce 2018 – Capgemini
- Chatbot Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2019 – 2024) – Research And Markets
- State of Bots Statistics 2018 – Relay
- State of Conversational Marketing, 2017 – Drift
- AI Chatbots & Virtual Assistants in the Workplace 2018 – Spiceworks
- Digital Banking Users Are Turning to Bots 2018 – eMarketer
- Customer Service Seekers Prefer Bypassing Humans 2018 – eMarketer
- Humanizing Digital 2020 – Zoovu