Consumers warm up to the idea of chatting with machines

A new study identifies chat — including online chat tools and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger — as the most popular way for consumers to interact with retailers while making a purchase.

[24]7’s, “A Retailer’s Guide to Chatbots, Live Chat, and Messaging” study provides insights into the increased use of chatbots and messaging apps in retail, following a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers. The research found the ability to chat online or through a mobile device now surpassed the use of using a phone and sending an email as the most popular way for consumers to interact with retailers.

Chat finds a niche in customer service
According to the study, more than one-in-four consumers (28.9%) prefer to use chat technology when interacting with a retailer — surpassing 28.7% phone preference and 27% email preference — as the most popular customer service channel.

In fact, chatbots and other chat technologies have become increasingly popular in digital marketing, particularly for customer service with the likes of Modelez and Burberry launching bots on Facebook Messenger.

Those darn Millennials
Once again, Millennials lead the charge to adopting chatbots and apps. Some 37% of survey respondents ages 18 to 34 rank chat as their favorite way to contact companies when making a purchase, with 30% choosing online chat and 7% selecting messaging apps. Email and phone contacts now lag in use among this savvy demographic at 23% and 21% respectively.

This finding provide insight on the changing patterns of communication and the need for flexibility in communicating with customers in their preferred channel.

Scott Horn, CMO of [24]7 stated, “Messaging apps are incredibly valuable for retailers looking to enhance relationships with consumers, particularly millennials.”

Chat’s appeal
Survey respondents identified convenience and access to conversation history as the top reasons for using messaging apps, at 15% and 10% respectively.

Another 20% surveyed also indicated instant order updates via messaging apps the best way to improve their online shopping experience, second only to location-based coupons on mobile devices (24 percent).

Reservations persist
But it’s not all unchecked open embrace. As much as 28% of those surveyed worried about security and privacy, 23% prefer to speak with a live agent, and 12% distrust third-party apps altogether.

Tags: Research, Technology, Chatbots

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