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Chatbots bring big business opportunities but establishing trust is essential

24 April, 2018

90% of shoppers believe that chatbots will be effective in providing basic information about a product, service or company, reveals research carried out by students of the MSc in Management Consulting at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, on behalf of PwC. A further 44% of shoppers surveyed believe chatbots would be useful for more complex tasks such as making changes to bank accounts.

These new findings confirm that customers often fail to find the information they need when shopping. Chatbots, while still evolving, are fast providing a real business opportunity to deliver enhanced customer service. However, addressing data protection and privacy concerns is key to ensuring users are comfortable that chatbots can provide a trusted service. 

While chatbots provide an opportunity for enhanced sales and improved customer service, the majority (92%) of survey respondents were also of the opinion that shoppers should always be able to deal with a human sales agent on request. The desire for a true omni-channel or 360o view of the customer does not subside with the introduction of another channel.

The research reveals that over half (54%) of customers prefer to use text-based communication when contacting a company with a query or complaint. This rises to 70% for 18-24 year olds. 47% expect a 24/7 response from service providers and this figure rises to 72% amongst 25-34 year olds. 61% of respondents under the age of 24 admit that they actively avoid calling businesses in order to sidestep frustrating automated menus. An overwhelming majority (88%) of respondents who are familiar with chatbots were under the age of 34.

However, in a world of escalating cyber-attacks and data breaches, privacy concerns could result in wary customers less willing to share information with a chatbot. The majority of respondents (87%) said that they would be unwilling to share sensitive information with a chatbot due to these security concerns. In order to minimize the risk of data loss/breach, chatbots should be designed with the principles of GDPR at the core of their functionality.

Speaking at the research launch, Ronan Fitzpatrick, Digital Director, PwC, said: "Chatbots present a significant opportunity for businesses looking to improve sales, automate their services and improve customer relationships. They can enable organisations to engage with their customers in the right place, at the right time with the right information as well as providing certain elements of customer service around the clock. With customer expectations rising, chatbots have the potential to be an excellent solution for better customer engagement. However, data protection and privacy concerns are key areas we need to ensure are addressed."

Kathy O'Reilly, Lecturer, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, said: "While chatbots are recognised as a digital disrupter, it has been proven that the successful adoption increases significantly when they are implemented as part of a holistic integrated customer service offering."


Notes to editors

About UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School
In 1964, University College Dublin became one of the first universities in Europe to offer the degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA).  In 1991, the graduate business school opened its own campus in Blackrock, County Dublin.  With over 100 faculty members, 1,300 students and 75,000 alumni worldwide, UCD Smurfit School is one of a small number of business schools worldwide and the only school in Ireland, to hold triple international accreditation (US - AACSB, European - EQUIS and UK – AMBA). The school’s programme have been consistently ranked among the leading European business schools’ programmes by the Economist and Financial Times, since 2000.

The School is also a member of CEMS and the Global Network for Advanced Management, which are alliances of leading global business schools.

About the survey
The survey was carried out in 2017 and forms part of a Series of PwC/UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business thought leadership papers. Over 300 Irish consumers participated in the survey. The next part in the series is due for publication in autumn 2018.

Contact us

Ronan Fitzpatrick

Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 8287

Johanna Dehaene

Corporate Communications, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6547

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