Simplr, a human-first, machine-enabled customer experience platform, completed a study of 1,493 consumer brands in May to track trends in conversational commerce and the consumer buying experience. The most important trend to emerge is the increasing availability of online chat among consumer brands: more than half (51%) of brands are offering online chat as a customer service channel, up from 35% in a similar Simplr study from January 2021. While the majority of those brands offering chat use a mix of chatbots and human agents, the study found more than a third rely solely on bots to power their chat experiences.
Consumers Rate Chat's Impact on Customer Effort
While a primary goal of offering chat is to improve the quality of the customer's experience, the study indicates that not all chat is created equal. Consumers rated chat with human involvement as superior to a chatbot experience. While brands often use chatbots designed to "feel human," 95% of consumers in this study said they can tell when they are talking to a bot vs. having a conversation with a human being.
Not only can they overwhelmingly recognize the difference in an interaction with a bot vs. a human, consumers also have strong opinions on how easy, or not, these experiences are:
- The average customer effort score for interactions with human involvement was EASY.(77.4/100)
- The average customer effort score for interactions with chatbots was DIFFICULT. (24.6/100)
- 95% of shoppers interacting with chatbots said that their experience would have been better with human help.
The study also underscores that brands have room for improvement when it comes to using chat to enhance customer support:
Of the brands with chat, conversations with customers were proactively initiated by the brand only one-third of the time.
- In escalations between chatbots and humans, shoppers had to repeat or reshare information 16% of the time.
"The goal of chat is ultimately to reduce the effort needed by customers to get answers to their questions, paving a smoother path to purchase," said Daniel Rodriguez, CMO of Simplr. "In this era of NOW CX, brands are really striving to meet ever-higher consumer expectations. This study makes it clear that where possible, companies need to blend the best of humans and technology to give consumers the immediate and personalized support they demand or those consumers will take their purchasing power elsewhere."
How Conversational Commerce Impacts Revenue
The Simplr study finds the availability and quality of chat-based conversations has a direct correlation to repurchase intent.
Consumer repurchase intent when human agents were involved reached 88%, while the repurchase intent based on chat experiences with no human help was just 11%.
"Given the compelling evidence that the human touch in online chat can significantly impact revenue, I expect we'll see a large portion of the 33% of brands currently using exclusively chatbots to integrate a human element by the end of 2021," said Rodriguez.
About the Report
Simplr partnered with Sinclair Metrics to mystery shop 1,493 ecommerce businesses in May of 2021 to understand how brands are meeting the demands of the NOW Customer. All businesses: sell direct to consumer, have more than $100M annual revenue; more than 500,000 monthly website visitors, according to SimilarWeb Pro data.