Most consumers have not yet used 'chat bots' to talk to brands, either before or after a purchase, somewhat validating the widely perceived need for combining technology and humans to create better and stronger customer experiences, according to the latest CX Index survey report from customer experience and support solutions provider Voxpro. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

The survey, entitled 'At the Corner of Technology and Human Experience', polled 1,000 US consumers and uncovered a number of useful insights about customer experiences and attitudes toward using automation and chat features for customer service.

Despite the promise of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, such as chatbots, to transform customer experiences, the majority of consumers have still yet to engage via these types of channels, according to the survey. Results demonstrate that the human touch is still an incredibly valuable and necessary tool to drive excellent customer experiences.

Additionally, as data continues to grow and become a significant part of business strategies, brands are looking to use this data to provide more personalized, faster customer service interactions. However, the survey reveals significant insights around how consumers feel about businesses storing their data and using it to drive personalized experiences.

As brands prepare for the busy holiday shopping season, the key insights uncovered from the survey can help inform customer service strategies - including how to engage customers and best communicate how their data is being used and stored.

AI is preferred with a human touch
According to the Voxpro survey, 68% of consumers still have not used chatbots to contact a brand. For 56% of those consumers, the reason they haven't used chat or automated features is because they prefer experiences with real people. For those who have used automated or chat features, nearly half (47%) rated their experience as either good or very good.

Additionally, even though only 32% of consumers have used chat or automated features, 49% would be willing to use these features for information gathering, if they could then ultimately speak to an agent to resolve their issue. These results demonstrate that there is a place for AI in the customer experience, but it must be accompanied by human interactions. While there are still strides and improvements to make, the potential to streamline and personalize interactions is too great to ignore.

Consumers and brands have trust issues
The report also revealed that there is a clear trust issue between consumers and brands. In fact, only 21% of consumers trust brands with their personal information, and 27% of consumers have not used an automated feature or chat, specifically because they do not trust these technologies.

Consumer data privacy continues to be a hot button issue, with 45% of consumers saying that they do not want brands to store their information because they are concerned about data breaches or hacks. The takeaway here for brands is that there is a critical need to educate customers and be transparent about how they are using, storing and sharing consumer information.

Personalization comes after security
While personalization is critical to a beautiful customer experience, consumers are still divided about whether or not they want brands to have their information before they contact them - even if it is to personalize and streamline the interaction. According to the survey, only 45% of consumers want brands to have their information to streamline experiences.

Further, for those that do prefer brands store their information, the number one reason why is because it is convenient and saves them time (65%). Speed and personalization are clearly still priorities for customer experience, but brands need to communicate clearly how they are securing data, and why it is ultimately benefiting the consumer.

Generations disagree on customer experiences
Among generations, there are surprising disparities regarding how they prefer to engage with brands, and their level of trust with them. While only 32% of consumers have used an automated system or advanced chat feature, that number dips even lower to 22% when we look at individuals aged 65 and older. This validates that, while adoption is slow, younger generations are more willing to engage with automated systems.

Digging deeper into generational differences, the survey found that 45% of people aged 55+ would prefer a brand have their information before an interaction, while only 32% of 18-24 year olds would prefer it. This finding sheds light on the fact that younger generations trust organizations even less with their personal information than older consumers.

"There is an incredible opportunity for brands to adopt new technologies that can drive beautiful, engaging customer experiences," said Dan Kiely, CEO and founder of Voxpro. "But this does not mean we eliminate the human element from customer service. Working together, humans and technology can improve and streamline customer experiences to build trust and loyalty within their customer base."

A critical conclusion from the survey is that businesses need deeper digital integration across knowledge and communication platforms to provide better customer experiences. Chatbots and other automation technologies cannot solve complex customer problems alone or completely, because they are not fully integrated with the knowledge layer. By combining the efficiencies that automation and AI can deliver, with the experience of interacting with humans, businesses can create memorable customer experiences that lead to long-term, loyal customers.

A free summary of the report has been made available to download from Voxpro's web site, here: https://info.voxprogroup.com/voxpro-cx-survey