Bots busy, but SAP Hybris says human touch important

’Tis the season of Christmas bots as Singaporeans do their festive shopping, but software company SAP Hybris warns that businesses and brands should not neglect incorporating the human touch.

Its Singapore Christmas shopper survey shows that chatbot help is being enlisted by 53 per cent of shoppers. Moreover, 74 per cent of shoppers who have asked chatbots for gift suggestions have actually acted on recommendations from the technology.

Singaporeans expect chatbot help to be rudimentary, says the survey, with 58 per cent regarding the technology useful only for basic information search, anticipating that more complex inquiries need to be handled by a person. Others feel that talking to chatbots has so far been a frustrating experience and they would rather speak to a human being (21 per cent), while 17 per cent have expressed an outright dislike for chatbots.

More than 1000 consumers were surveyed on their use of and attitudes toward chatbots, with the results showing that while open toward engaging with chatbots, they still have reservations. One of the top concerns was that their requests might not be understood (61 per cent), while 35 per cent fear their personal information might be leaked and 13 per cent regard chatbots as “too creepy”.

‘One component’

“Businesses need to stay attuned to these concerns and optimise the use of chatbots as one component in a wider omnichannel strategy,” says SAP Hybris global VP of fast-growth markets Nicholas Kontopoulos.

“While chatbots can offer answers for initial queries on pricing or product features, or book and make reservations, they cannot fully replace the value of human interaction when it comes to building customer relationships. Any hint of customer dissatisfaction needs to be solved immediately – by a human services officer.”

Meanwhile, 48 per cent of survey respondents say they will engage with chatbots more often if they can make more personalised recommendations on what to buy. Other factors that will encourage shoppers to use chatbots more often is for them to offer price and product comparisons (47 per cent), assure that personal information will be kept private (38 per cent), provide recommendations on similar and complementary products (34 per cent) or simply become more human-like (18 per cent).

“Businesses should view chatbots as more than just an answering machine – they are also a valuable mine of data offering fresh perspectives into the underlying reasons for sales trends and help brands better understand what their customers want,” says Kontopoulos.

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