A majority (55%) of smartphone owners around the world are open to some form of chatbot communication with businesses, though the largest share would still prefer to make a phone call, according to a recent report [download page] from Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF). Compared to the popularity of online chat, consumers remain split on chatbot messaging, but are convinced by some benefits.
Consumers Are Split on Chatbots
According to the survey of 6,500 smartphone users across 10 countries, device owners are becoming open to chatbots. A majority (55%) of respondents say they would accept a machine to respond to their messages, though this comprises 31% that would only accept a machine responding for routine services (e.g to check a balance or order status). The remaining 24% would accept this for all queries, including complex questions.
On the other hand, about one-quarter (24%) would not accept a machine responding to their messages. These individuals want to know that there is a human answering their questions. And, a further 21% remain unsure.
Despite this indication that some consumers think P2A (person-to-application) messaging should have routine use cases, respondents were open to a number of actions being carried out by mobile messaging. In fact, only 16% were not open to any of the use cases listed. Booking an appointment was the action respondents were most likely to consider via P2A messaging (29%), followed by asking for help (27%), complaining about something (26%) and updating their information (23%).
Consumers Expect Standard Chatbot Discovery
Understandably, respondents expect chatbot discovery to involve the methods that users know and use today. As such, the widest consensus involves going to the company website via a mobile device. This is followed by preference for using the same number they use to call the company, or the same number from which they have received messages from the company.
Fewer respondents were open to less common, newer discovery methods such as taking a picture of a QR code.
How Does Messaging Compare to Phone Calls?
Despite indicating being generally open to P2A messaging and chatbots, the largest share (31%) of respondents would prefer to make a phone call. However, only slightly fewer (28%) are happy with either method, with one-fifth (21%) saying they generally prefer to message a company and the remainder not knowing.
Smartphone owners are aware that messaging has its benefits compared to making a phone call. Nearly 4 in 10 (36%) associated phone calls with having to wait for a long time to be contacted by an assistant, while fewer feel that mobile messaging is associated with a long wait time. Understandably, though, respondents view making a phone call as the more personal approach compared to mobile messaging.
Read the full report here.
About the Data: Findings are based on 6,500 smartphone users; 650 each from Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the US.