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Aussies Are Warming To The Use Of Bots In Customer Service

But most of us still prefer to chat to a human when it comes to complex issues.

02/06/2017 1:01 AM AEST | Updated 04/06/2017 1:13 PM AEST

If you're one of those people who almost screams in frustration trying to explain a complex issue to a recorded voice -- a bot -- then you are not alone.

However, a new global survey has found 75 percent of us are actually warming to the bots when it comes to customer service, particularly when it's over something simple and you need the answer right away.

The survey by LivePerson found most of us don't have an issue about using a bot to communicate with a brand's customer service department. Millennials were found to be the most accepting generation, with 68 percent admitting they'd rather talk to a bot if they could guarantee it would perform as quickly and accurately as a human.

Consumers prefer bots to have a friendly personality, as opposed to humorous or formal.

LivePerson's regional vice president for APAC, Steven Fitzjohn told HuffPost Australia many people are still skeptical about making the shift to using bots for customer service. Just over half of those surveyed, 57 percent, said they'd still rather talk to a human.

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75 per cent of us are warming to the use of bots in customer service

"When asked why they prefer to wait for a human when contacting customer service, the majority of people say they believe a human will understand what they need better than a bot. Naturally, if a bot doesn't understand what they need, most people would prefer to be transferred directly to a human," Fitzjohn said.

"Businesses need to be continually training their customer service bots to ensure that they are able to understand the intent of a customer and address the query as quickly as possible. If the bot cannot answer the request, that's when a human needs to step in."

Kate Morris is the CEO and founder of Adore Beauty, a business she started 17 years ago .

"When I was starting out, we operated on dial-up; there was no broadband and no social media. It took a long time to evolve but these days new tech is coming out all the time and we're now exploring using bots for customer service," Morris said.

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Bots work the best when they quickly address a customers' enquiry and then transfer them to a human where necessary.

"The way we approach it is particularly when it's a straight forward query and people just want to answer right way. It's like a guided search, providing the answer to a question rather than making the customer wait to talk to a person. But if it's a way to solve your problem in a speedier way then that's a good thing."

Fitzjohn believes bots are most helpful for quickly addressing a customer's inquiry, determining their intent and seamlessly transferring them to a human where necessary.

"Looking at traditional customer care channels, such as the telephone, customers have been known to wait for hours to be helped, sometimes not getting through to an agent at all. Adopting the use of both bots and humans working together has been shown to provide better customer experiences through reduced waiting times and quicker responses," Fitzjohn said.

"Customers no longer have to wait online for customer care agents to solve their issues. Instead, messaging enables the consumer to go about their daily business and receive a notification when their issue or problem has been dealt with."

Kate Morris wants to make it clear that using bots does not mean she will stop employing people to talk to her customers.

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It wasn't long ago that we found technology like ATMs 'scary' so it won't be long before it becomes normal to chat to bots in customer service.

"I know that it infuriates me when you have to phone a company and they make you talk to the machine, so something we're very conscious of is making sure that when we start using bots it's not going to be infuriating in any way."

When it comes to online banking, convenience has seen most of us accepting and using the technology. Fitzjohn said ATMs and internet banking was once considered 'scary'.

"In the same way, people will continue to warm to using bots because they are simple, fast and convenient. Whether messaging is facilitated by a bot, a human or a tango between the two, it's the future of customer communications," Fitzjohn said.

"Consumers want to communicate with brands how they already communicate with each other, on mobile devices, using text based communication, in their own time. In many ways people will find themselves warming to them both consciously and unconsciously."

Take a look at the survey results here.

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