Should You Be Using Chatbots?

November 05, 2018

Providing excellent customer service is a cornerstone of running a business. Following up on customer service requests is a critical component of customer service.

Yet 62% of companies didn’t respond to a customer service request and of those that did, the average response time to handle a request was 12 hours, according to the recently released 2018 Customer Service Benchmark Report from Super Office.

Clearly, there’s room for improvement. Are chatbots a viable option for responding to customers?

By 2020, chatbots are expected to take over 85% of all customer service interactions. We are going to skip the issue of cost because there are several freemium chatbot services, along with low to high cost options.

Rather, we will examine customer expectations about response time, ways to use chatbots and compare chatbots to other channels. Unless otherwise sourced, all data in this article is from The 2018 State of Chatbots Report, which SurveyMonkey Audience, Drift, Myclever and Salesforce released earlier this year.

Customer Expectations

Chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate conversation with human users. 27% of customers weren’t sure if they had talked to a bot or a human during their last customer service interaction.

How fast do customers expect to get a response after they reach out?

42% of consumers who reach out to companies through social media expect a response within 60 minutes and 32% expect a response within 30 minutes. Of these consumers who have contact companies via social channels, 57% expect the same response time during evenings and on weekends. 89% of customers expect an email response from a company within 1 day.

The odds of getting in touch after a lead first reaches out decreases 10% after the lead waits 5 minutes. These odds decrease 400% after a 10-minute wait.

Customers use phone, email and the website most often to contact a business. The percentage breakdown of consumer contact by channel:

60% phone

60% email

54% website

39% face-to-face

38% online chat

30% mobile app

28% social media

15% chatbots

2% other

These communication channels aren’t without their problems. The most common problems with a traditional online experience include:

34% site is hard to navigate

31% can’t get answers to simple questions

28% basic details about a business are hard to find

27% it takes too long to find services

26% poorly designed smartphone apps

24% search options on a company website aren’t useful

23% services are not accessible on mobile devices

22% online forms have poor quality

18% services feel impersonal

16% no services outside normal operating hours

10% brand is unresponsive on Twitter

Most customers expect an instant response from multiple customer touchpoints. Expectations for fast responses are highest for online chat, interacting with chatbots and face-to-face meetings. These percentages of customers expect an instant response via these channels:

77% online chat

75% chatbots

73% face-to-face

64% telephone

55% apps

40% social media

34% webform

27% email

16% letter

Not every channel carries the high expectation of an instant response. These percentages of customers expect an answer within 24 hours via these channels:

62% email

52% webform

50% social media

37% apps

31% telephone

24% letter

20% face-to-face

19% chatbots

18% online chat

Uses & Benefits of Chatbots

Chatbots provide an automated way to handle consumer interactions. 69% of consumers prefer chatbots for quick communication with brands

Consumers identified several possible uses for chatbots. Their top practical uses for chatbots include:

37% get a quick answer in an emergency

35% resolving a complaint/problem

35% getting detailed answers/explanations

34% finding a human customer service assistant

33% making a reservation

29% paying a bill

27% buying a basic item

22% getting ideas and inspiration for purchases

22% adding yourself to mailing list/news services

Receiving 24-hour service and getting questions answered were the top benefits consumers thought they would get from interacting with chatbots. Consumers listed these other potential benefits of chatbots:

64% 24-hour service

55% getting instant responses

55% answers to simple questions

51% easy communications

43% resolve complaints quickly

43% good customer experience

37% detailed/expert answers

35% answers to complex questions

32% friendliness and approachability

However, not all consumers want to interact with a chatbot. The top reasons NOT to use chatbots include:

43% prefer to deal with a real-life assistant

30% worry about the bot making a mistake

26% prefer to use the website

15% said nothing would stop them from using chatbots (across all age groups)

Chatbots vs. Other Channels

Customers think chatbots are superior to other channels (apps, email and the phone) for getting quick answers to simple questions.

Customers prefer chatbots over apps for the following:

quick answers to simple questions

getting 24-hour service

quick answers to complex questions

the ability to easily register a complaint

getting detailed/expert answers

Customers prefer chatbots over email for the following:

quick answers to simple questions

24-hour service


quick answers to complex questions

good customer experience

friendliness and approachability

Customers prefer chatbots over the telephone for the following:

quick answers to simple questions

24-hour service


Service Tags: 
Marketing Strategy