While most Australian customers want to use chatbots for automated support, many businesses fail to deliver positive chatbot experiences, according to a new study by Cyara, with half of customers (50%) believing a positive or negative chatbot experience is a reflection of the overall brand.

The survey, commissioned by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Cyara, explores the consumer sentiment about chatbots. For almost two-thirds of respondents (65%), chatbots were the top way consumers typically interacted with brands in the last six months, followed by in-person and phone (46% and 41% respectively).

However, consumers surveyed gave their chatbot experiences an average rating of 6.4/10 or 64%—equivalent to a D grade. When specifically asked about their chatbot interactions, 45% of customers said they often feel frustrated, while one in three (37%) interactions were said to be negative.

Australian customers like chatbots as they provide 24/7 support (76%), faster response times (58%), and autonomy (44%). In fact, respondents are 24% more likely to interact with brands using a chatbot than speaking directly with an agent and rank them higher than any other digital avenue.

However, almost three quarters (73%) of customers agree that chatbots aren’t able to handle complex questions. Customers find chatbots are often unable to provide accurate answers, with half of customers (51%) agreeing it is difficult to find a solution to their question or problem using a chatbot.

Six in 10 (60%) respondents said they had to answer the same questions over and over again when interacting with a chatbot while 45% received responses and/or solutions from the chatbot that didn’t make sense in the context of their question.

The challenges of using chatbots push customers to seek out alternate and possibly more expensive ways of interacting with a brand. One in three customers said after a negative chatbot experience, they are extremely or highly likely to abandon their purchase altogether (30%), take their purchase to a different brand (29%), or tell their friends and family about their poor experience (28%).

Following good chatbot experiences, almost two thirds of customers (64%) surveyed said they are more likely to return to a brand, while 62% of respondents are more likely to seek out chatbots in the future after a positive experience. 

“Delivering positive chatbot experiences has a critical impact on customer satisfaction and sales, and sub-par chatbots will not cut it for consumers today. Organisations that invest in quality assurance testing and training chatbots can provide customers with better and more consistent chatbot experiences,” Cyara chief customer officer, Dennis Reno said.

“Businesses that strive to meet customers’ chatbot expectations can increase customer loyalty, boost brand reputation, and lower contact centre support costs since customers are less likely to seek out more expensive avenues of communication. And of course, satisfied customers lead to increased sales, which has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line.”