Consumer repurchase intent when human agents were involved reached 88 per cent, repurchase intent based on chat experiences with no human help was just 11 per cent.
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 per cent) of brands offer online chat as a customer service channel, up from 35 per cent in a similar Simplr study in January 2021. While most 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.
Simplr partnered with Sinclair Metrics to mystery shop 1,493 eCommerce businesses in May of 2021 to understand how brands meet the NOW Customer’s demands. All businesses sell direct to consumers, have more than $100M annual revenue and more than 500,000 monthly website visitors, according to SimilarWeb Pro data.
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 per cent of consumers said they can tell when they are talking to a bot versus having a conversation with a human being.
Not only can they overwhelmingly recognise the difference in an interaction with a bot versus 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 personalised support they demand or those consumers will take their purchasing power elsewhere.”
Impact on Revenue
The 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 per cent, while the repurchase intent based on chat experiences with no human help was just 11 per cent.
How else can consumer brands use chat to drive repurchase intent? Connect with customers on a human level to increase their confidence and excitement about their purchases. Research shows that when customers are confident and excited about their purchases— which can come from a great chat experience— they’re likely to shop with a brand again. Make sure you aren’t thinking about conversational commerce as a fancy term for chatbots and AI on their own. For conversational commerce to work as effectively as possible, it’s clear that a human element makes a difference. Finding the right blend of human agents and technology is key to achieving the results you’re seeking from your CX chat channel.
“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 per cent of brands currently using exclusively chatbots to integrate a human element by the end of 2021,” said Rodriguez.
NOW CX is a customer experience movement that has emerged in response to the rise of the NOW Customer. The NOW CX model intelligently blends the best of humans and technology, enabling brands to give consumers an always-on, always-personal experience, whenever and wherever they want to engage.