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Consumers Are More Likely to Use Emerging Technology When Interacting with Retailers

Consumers are often hesitant to engage with the latest automated customer service offerings. In industries like healthcare and financial services, many prefer to consult with humans through traditional mediums. But in retail, more are willing to use emerging technologies—including chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI).

Nearly half (49%) of US consumers surveyed by call tracking and analytics firm Invoca and The Harris Poll said they trusted advice generated by AI technology in the retail category—more so than any other category analyzed. A smaller percentage (38%) said they would trust automated advice for hospitality services, while fewer respondents said the same for healthcare (20%) and financial services (19%).

An April 2019 survey from Drift, a chatbot services company, found similar findings when looking at chabot engagement. Roughly four in 10 US internet users said they used chatbots to engage with retailers in some form or fashion. By comparison, less than a quarter of consumers turned to chatbots for services like healthcare, utilities, entertainment and financial services.

For retailers, chatbot technology isn't just a customer service tool—it also can collect unique first-party customer data, according to Yash Kotak, co-founder and CEO of direct-to-consumer platform

“When it comes to conversations, [chatbots] become a one-on-one connect,” Kotak said. “It also helps [retailers] collect data on where this customer is located and their buying preferences. You can ask questions that they're comfortable answering in a conversational format rather than filling out a form.”

Despite usage among retail shoppers, chatbots are still one of the least-preferred mediums for communicating with a business, per the Drift study. When asked which platforms consumers used to communicate with an organization in the past year, most said email (65%) and telephone (55%), while just 13% of respondents said they used chatbots.