More than half (53%) of the 1,000 Singaporean shoppers surveyed are enlisting the help of chatbots for holiday shopping, with 74% of shoppers acting on the recommendations given by chatbots, according to the new SAP Hybris Singapore Christmas Shopper Survey 2017.
The survey, which also stated that bot-powered commerce is on a tipping point in Singapore, noted that businesses and brands, however, should not neglect incorporating the human touch. This is because Singaporeans expect assistance from chatbots to be rudimentary, with 58% viewing chatbots as useful only for basic information search. Complex enquiries are expected to be handled by a human being.
Meanwhile, 21% of those surveyed indicated that talking to chatbots have been a frustrating experience for them so far and they would rather speak to a human being, while 17% expressed an outright dislike for chatbots. Also, 61% are concerned that their requests might not be understood by the chatbot, while 35% are worried that their personal information might be leaked by chatbots. Also, 13% stated that chatbots are "creepy" if they know too much information about consumers.
SAP Hybris' survey stated that to win Singaporeans over, chatbots have to become more understanding and intuitive. Nearly half of Singaporeans (48%) indicated they will engage with chatbots more often if they are able to produce more personalised recommendations on what to buy. Other factors that will encourage shoppers to use chatbots more often is to provide comparison prices and products from other brands (47%); assure consumers that personal information will be kept private (38%); offer recommendations on similar and complimentary products (35); or become more human-like (18%).
According to Nicholas Kontopoulos, global VP of Fast Growth Markets for SAP Hybris, the customer experience can make or break a brand. In view of this, businesses need to stay attuned to these concerns and optimise the use of chatbots as one component in a wider omnichannel strategy.
He added that while chatbots can proactively offer answers for initial queries on pricing, 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, Kontopoulos said.
“Singaporean shoppers have an appetite for deeper engagement with chatbots, but what the results really tell us is that they want a more personalised e-commerce experience. Today’s consumer have higher expectations and businesses need to keep a close pulse on the ever-evolving customer journey in order to react to not just changing consumer preferences but context at point of purchase or even consideration," Kontopoulos added.
"To this end, businesses should view chatbots as more than just an answering machine – they are also a valuable mine of data that offer fresh perspectives into the underlying reasons for sales trends and help brands better understand what their customers are looking for. Armed with these insights, they can then take action to cultivate sales and entrench customer loyalty," he said.