Vast Majority of Consumers Prefer Live Service Agents, Study Finds

A recent study from NICE InContact found that despite advances in artificial intelligence (AI), the overwhelming majority—90 percent—of consumers prefer to interact with a human customer service agent instead of with a chatbot or virtual assistant. The study—which surveyed more than 2,400 consumers from the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia—also found that 91 percent want to be informed immediately if they are interacting with a chatbot or virtual assistant rather than with a live agent. Furthermore, 79 percent said that chatbots and virtual agents need to get smarter before they would be willing to use them regularly.

This preference was also exhibited in the channels that consumers choose to interact with a company. Calling topped the list with 63 percent, followed up by chatting online with a live rep (54 percent) and emailing the company (53 percent). For comparison, 20 percent cited calling the company and using an automated menu, and just 8 percent said the same of using an automated or virtual assistant.

The study also revealed what consumers want when it comes to customer service. 94 percent expect companies to direct them to the communication method that resolves their issue the fastest, while 91 percent expect them to provide a seamless experience when moving between communication methods. Additionally, 87 percent said that they are more willing to do business with companies that offer them more methods of communication; 83 percent expect them to be proactive about providing service via reminders, notifications, and confirmations; and 81 percent said that a bad customer service experience would make them very likely to switch to another company in the future.

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