Conversations about chatbots helping humans in the workplace always brings up the same range of issues. We often end up discussing the place artificial intelligence will have in our lives. We (very) often talk about robots taking over completely. Some mention ‘the Singularity’ in a frightened tone, while others scoff at it.
Whatever the conversation, it always seems to revolve around the same topic: the impact robots will have on the humans they might replace and/or harm.
This debate is missing an entire piece of the puzzle, though. What about the humans on the other side of the conversation? After all, chatbots are there to converse, and there must be someone on the other end. So how do they feel about talking to a robot?
You are talking to a robot. How does that make you feel?
This is a highly relevant question. A chatbot could be as smart as anything in tech, but if people are reluctant to use it — for whatever reason — it becomes utterly useless. We know the prospect of robots taking over our jobs is scary to some. But how do we feel about chatbots helping us in our daily lives?
Thankfully, a few studies have allowed us to answer this question.
Mimi An from HubSpot shared the results of her study on the topic of artificial intelligence in ecommerce and customer support. The study found that only 57 percent of the people interviewed would rather get help from a real person than an AI program. To support this statistic, 40 percent answered they didn’t care whether they are talking to a human or a machine as long as they get the help they need.
According to recent Ubisend research, 69 percent of people interviewed said they’d consider talking to a chatbot before a human in order to get instant answers to their question. Surprisingly, 19 percent said having a human interaction when contacting a business is not important to them. The data allows us to draw a significant conclusion. For many people, when it comes to talking about an issue to a human or a chatbot, the only thing that matters is results.
All we want is results
As long as we reach the desired outcome of our conversation, we don’t care. Robot? Fine. Human? Fine. Hybrid? Sure.
Both of these studies draw attention to the efficiency aspect of chatbots. Most consumers have not yet interacted with chatbots (about 75 percent in the U.K. have not), and yet many have high expectations for them.
Though consumers do not know exactly how chatbots work, they know they are robots that are available 24/7 and are there to answer questions. This is more than enough information for many to make up their minds. We want answers and we want them now, so chatbots seem to be the way forward.
The impact of indifference on businesses
I can hear you say: Doesn’t that mean humans can remain in customer service and no one will really care? We just have to make them efficient! You are right. Humans should stay in customer service. The approach most big businesses are taking regarding chatbots now is to supplement their human workforce. It is not about AI taking over jobs; it is about AI helping humans out.
Many consumers don’t care whether you are using robots, humans, or pink canaries to give them the answers they want. And chatbots offer businesses a realistic way to satisfy their customers’ expectation of speed and availability.
Alex Debecker is the founder of Ubisend, a leading AI conversational interface building company.