By 2020 consumers will handle 85% of their engagement with businesses without ever interacting with another human being, according to predictions from Gartner Research. Instead of engaging with people, customers will use self-service options and chatbots. This is largely due to the fact that millennials prefer to deal with customer service issues themselves.
When it comes to chatbots, 60% of millennials have used them, 70% of those report positive experiences, and of the millennials who have not used them, more than half say they are interested in using them.
Brands are taking notice of these preferences as well. Pizza Hut, for example uses a chatbot to allow customers to place orders via Facebook. UK custom woven labels brand, GB Labels, does as well. Starbucks is also experimenting with using chatbots to engage with customers although they have not integrated commerce into that as of yet. It’s clear that using chatbots for customer service is becoming the norm, and that using them for making purchases and payments is coming in the very near future.
What is it that makes chatbots so appealing to millennials when their parents often prefer a combination of self-service and human interaction? That’s not to mention their grandparents who would rather just talk to a human being in the first place.
The answer is that chatbots mesh perfectly with millennials expectations and the ways in which they are used to interacting with the world around them. Chatbots bring the following:
A chance to engage with emerging technology
Convenience and connection
How chatbots deliver instant gratification
“Millennials are accustomed to giving and receiving immediate feedback,” said Imran Tariq, a lead generation expert and the founder of Webmetrix Group. “When they want help or information, they’d much rather interact with Alexa or Google than read a manual or interact with a human being who likely has to search for the information as well. Bots can provide this immediate, human like response that millennials crave.”
Given a choice, a millennial is much more likely to give a bot a chance to provide an immediate answer than to send an email or pick up the phone. Then, as their interactions with bots increase and those interactions are fruitful, they are going to become more comfortable dealing with bots. Eventually, they will seek out opportunities to engage with bots instead of using other customer service channels.
Engaging with emerging technology
Millennials are a generation that will wait in line at midnight for the latest iPhone or video game release. They enthusiastically embrace new technology, and want to be the first to have the latest gadgets and technology. Not only that, but they understand and embrace their role as influencers of developing technologies.
Because bots are driven by AI, a technology that relies on interaction to grow and improve, millennials have influence simply by using this technology. This in turn relates to millennials’ need for instant gratification. The more bots can learn their needs and preferences, the more quickly they can provide the desired, instantaneous response.
Convenience and connectivity
Millennials are used to being connected all of the time. If they need information, if they want to make a purchase, or to interact with someone, they can do so at any time. It’s just a matter of grabbing their phone and opening up the app of their choosing. Chatbots have been designed to work within these apps. This means using them requires little to no learning curve.
When it comes to Facebook’s mobile app, millennials are spending approximately 26 hours per month on that alone. It only makes sense that brands would create bots to meet the largest consumer group where they are spending a significant amount of time. The potential for bots to make life easier for millennials, and to improve the customer service experience is nearly limitless. Bots can be used for booking airfare and hotel rooms, to pay credit card bills, to seek help with technical issues, to purchase items, and a wide variety of other purposes.
Millennials are in a near constant state of interaction. When they aren’t messaging one another or sharing snaps, they’re Tweeting. When they aren’t doing that, they are liking and sharing on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. They’re also spending their hours consuming news and information, shopping, even playing games.
Not only do bots engage with millennials on these familiar platforms, they engage with them in the casual, conversational manner that millennials prefer. That’s an ideal formula for creating great customer service experiences.
Use of chatbots isn’t going to be limited to checking sports scores or ordering pizza. Even the relatively conservative financial industry is starting to embrace the use of bots. For example, Capital One is testing Eno, a bot that will provide customers with information on account due dates and allow them to make payments. If things continue as they have been, Millennials are likely to continue to embrace bots as they become more and more available.