imageMore and more consumers are choosing bots over human advisors and salespeople, according to a study by the Capgemini Research Institute. This is especially true when looking for new products and services or for questions about a purchase.

The research institute’s study Smart Talk: How organizations and consumers are embracing voice and chat assistants shows how quickly the technology is spreading. Compared to the previous year, significantly more consumers can imagine that voice assistants will become the channel of their choice within the next three years. Security remains an issue and only little has changed in consumer concerns about how voice assistants affect their privacy and access to data. However, now that conversational commerce is becoming mainstream, businesses need to do more to address those concerns, Capgemini warns.

Dispersion of digital assistants lags behind enthusiasm

It seems like businesses have recognized the advantages with many considering chat assistants now to be crucial for customer loyalty and the overall customer experience. More than three quarters of the companies surveyed (76%) stated that they were able to derive verifiable added value from voice or chat assistants. Almost six out of ten companies (58%) confirmed that their expectations have been met or even exceeded. For example, digital assistants have reduced customer service costs by more than 20%, while the use of digital assistants by consumers has increased by 20%.

Interestingly, although businesses and consumers alike are convinced of the benefits, actual prevalence seems to be lagging behind enthusiasm and demand, according to the study. Less than half of the top 100 players in the automotive, consumer goods / retail, banking and insurance sectors use voice assistants and the same applies to chats.

The more experienced the customers, the more demand for voice assistants

Capgemini’s research also shows that many customers are satisfied with their voice assistant experience. Interestingly, the satisfaction levels are slightly higher (71%) for voice assistants on mobile phones compared to that of devices such as Google Home or Amazon Echo (62%). One reason for it could be the 24/7 accessibility to voice assistants on smartphones.

Convenience and personalization will bring chat assistants into the mainstream

Once a relationship of trust is established, consumers are ready to go a step further regarding personalization and emotional commitment. More than two-thirds (68%) of consumers said that having a voice assistant allows them to multitask and perform tasks hands-free, and globally, the majority (60%) even believe that chat assistants will adapt better to their users over time: 58% want to personalize their voice assistant, 55% want to give it a name, and 53% would like to define its personality. So, obviously, consumers want a more human-like interaction with their assistants.

CustomerPersonalizeBotsChartSince voice or chat bots can communicate with several people at the same time, they help reduce the stress and strain on human employees. The interfaces resolve between 20% and 30% of the requests before they reach the human agents - and even if the topic is passed on to a human, it is much more targeted.

Aside from that, the study identified four critical success factors for companies to capitalize on the growing excitement for voice:

1. Find the right balance between human and robotic interactions to drive greater engagement: almost half of consumers would be more loyal to a company with more human-like AI and consequently more willing to consume.

2. Equip chat assistants with additional features such as images / videos: almost two thirds of consumers said that more information would make it easier for them, especially pictures (63%), videos (64%) or even more text (65%).

3. Focus on gaining consumer trust by solving consumer pain points: breaking down barriers, being contextually relevant when selecting use cases for conversational assistants. However, while consumers are increasingly willing to trust the advice of conversation assistants, concerns about privacy and security remain high.

4. Developing talent along three key areas: experience design, architecture / technology, and legal / compliance. In addition to culture, digital skills are the greatest challenge for companies.

In a nutshell, organizations must understand the evolving dynamics of where and when a consumer uses a conversational interface. Then, based on that knowledge, deploy the best combination of human and bot.

“We are at the beginning of the conversational interface revolution. It is important to bear in mind that this revolution is not just about employing a new medium. This is about how being customer centric is key to delivering a superlative experience again and again”, Capgemini concludes.

By Daniela La Marca