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Millennials more accepting of chatbots than previously thought: report

Millennial consumers’ bulwarks against chatbots seem to be weakening, with nearly 55 percent claiming to have positive experiences with one, according to a new report.

The report, called “Messaging and Chatbots in Local,” bodes well for marketers and local businesses that wish to cut down on customer service expenses in the long term. It is also good news for those that develop chatbot technology— a platform still in its nascence— who now know their efforts are not futile.

“Chatbots will make interacting with brands and businesses more frictionless and fun,” said Mark Slater, CEO of Pingup. “At every stage of the purchase process, from information gathering down to processing a sale, chatbots have the potential to help consumers click less, chat more and shorten the distance to a transaction.”

“Like any new technology, consumers need to try it out and get used to it and the tech needs to evolve to provide an improved consumer experience over current options. There are currently more chatbots than websites being built every day, so the uptake will doubtlessly accelerate.”

Chatbot uptake
The survey, undertaken in collaboration with market research firm Survata, polled nearly 900 U.S. consumers.

Nearly 30 percent of overall chatbot users on major messaging platforms reported using them to communicate with a business, and over half of millennial users reported themselves as interested in using them to engage with local businesses, specifically.

The survey also collected data on consumers’ actual impressions of their chatbot experiences. The survey reported that nearly 50 percent of overall chatbot users— and 55 percent of millennial responders— claimed that using a chatbot changed their perceptions of a business in a positive sense.

Chatbots are also being looked to for transaction-side assistance. 35 percent of messaging platform users, and 52 percent of millennials polled, reported that they would be interested in using a chatbot for taking action on local services such as booking an appointment or signing up for a class.

And, unsurprisingly, ordering food is a popular use of chatbots, with 33 percent of millennial responders interested in using a chatbot for taking action with local businesses saying they would be interested in doing so to order food.

The survey’s findings went so far as to evince some preference for chatbots over person-to-person communication, shedding doubt on what were once thought as calcified attitudes towards chatbot integration: given a choice, some 26 percent of respondents reported preferring to communicate with a business via messaging or chatbot, with that number growing to 37 percent when taking only millennials into account.

An increasing number of retailers do indeed ‘got bots’

Growing numbers
Chatbots have been proliferating as of late, even outside of local business circles. Last month, Mastercard took two big steps forward when it came to mobile integration thanks to a new chatbot system and a partnership that brings payments to wearable devices, signaling that the credit card company is committed to making multichannel retail more mobile (see story).

And in an effort to cash in on the chatbot craze and expand its own digital ordering service, Domino’s is now allowing customers to order pizza through a Facebook Messenger chatbot (see story).

“Local mobile commerce is in the beginning stages of a huge disruption,” Mr. Slater said. “The chatbot is poised to massively evolve digital task completion on messaging platforms.

“This research shows that early adopting mobile consumers, millennials in particular, are starting to use chatbots for transactions that used to be done via app, text or calls,” he said. “Even more are interested in doing so.

“We are witnessing the beginning of the next wave of digital commerce. Watch this space!”