Chatbots haven’t impressed consumers, finds StrategyCorp survey

06 April 2021 2 min. read

After having to interact with more chatbots during the pandemic, Canadian consumers don’t seem too fond of robotic customer service representatives, according to a recent survey from management consultancy StrategyCorp. The survey polled 400 Canadians in March 2021.

Artificial intelligence and digital assistants have become even more prevalent during the pandemic, as organizations look to digitization as an avenue to increase efficiency and reduce costs in a time of economic downturn and disruption.

Canadians have noticed, with 68% saying they believe companies have been using more chatbots since the onset of the pandemic. Meanwhile, 77% think they have interacted with a customer service chatbot since the pandemic began.

More than three quarters of Canadians (74%) think chatbots provide a worse customer service experience than a human representative, however. Respondents believe chatbot technology currently has limited capacity to deal with non-bog-standard issues, with 67% saying chatbots are either not very or not at all capable of dealing with non-routine customer service matters.

Chatbots haven’t impressed consumers, finds StrategyCorp survey

Not all chatbot technology is created equal. Some simply scan for keywords and create responses from common phrases obtained from an associated database. Others use natural language processing and advanced AI, though even the most advanced bots can still be lacking. Most have issues dealing with accents or grammatical mistakes, multiple concurrent questions, and non-linear conversations.

Many consumers, especially older ones, also dislike chatbot interactions regardless of the sophistication level of the tech. Sixty-three percent of respondents in the StrategyCorp survey said they trust a human more than a chatbot, and a similar proportion would find a company more trustworthy if they only used live representatives for customer service interactions.

This has many people hoping companies will shift back to human reps. Sixty-three percent said they think companies that have switched to chatbots should switch back to human reps after the pandemic ends, while only 26% said companies should keep using bots.

There may be some reputation risk for companies that decide to keep chatbots permanently. Sixty percent of respondents said this would have a negative impact on company reputation, compared to a quarter who said it would have no impact on reputation.

"Although there are some cost savings for companies that transition to AI-based customer service, even our online participant group reported high levels of dissatisfaction with how their customer experience has evolved during the pandemic," said Matthew Segal, director of communications, at StrategyCorp. "We've been told that the future is digital, but we're not there yet. Canadians still overwhelmingly care about getting real customer service help, in real time, from a real person."