What we know about chatbots and user experience

published on August, 2020

By now, it’s possible that we’re used to using the technology that has come as a result of the accelerated digital transformation. That pop-up when you land on a website’s homepage that asks, “How can I help you today?” isn’t so surprising anymore and is becoming a more significant part of the digital experience.

Online chat as a digital touchpoint

Chat has become a prevalent method of managing customer requests. It’s not just an opportunity for self-service — it’s a chance to provide your customers with another positive touchpoint with your company or brand. 

Despite the rapid rate of improvement to artificial intelligence, chatbots don’t always offer the seamless experience we’ve come to expect from digital platforms. We’ve uncovered a few things that are essential to (but not always present in) the chatbot user experience. 

Users want to know who they are chatting with

Someone on a laptop interacting with a virtual chatbot on a website.Setting and meeting expectations are crucial to creating a cohesive user experience, and the chatbot experience is no exception. It’s common to give a chatbot a real name, creating the impression that someone is speaking with a live agent. However, the experience can be frustrating when the user realizes they’re receiving canned responses. Although you might want to give the impression that there’s someone real on the other side, we’ve found that consumers want to know who they are talking to, whether that’s a robot or a person.

Knowing if the representative is live or a computer also tends to change what details are shared and how responses are worded. Live agents can understand and dissect longer answers and interpret which words connotate positive or negative emotions. When users know that there's a chatbot on the other end, they will tend to ask direct questions and give more concise answers. 

Users still expect emotions from chatbots 

Chats are usually initiated when there’s a problem, which inevitably comes with negative emotions. Humans can recognize emotions and adjust their language and tone accordingly. Users still want that same level of empathy and professionalism from the automated responses they receive from chatbots. Impersonal lines of questioning and multiple choice questions frustrate users, especially when they are expressing multiple emotions or trying to solve a complex problem. 

Users don’t completely trust chatbots

Most people are still skeptical about what technology can actually accomplish. We’ve found that even though they receive confirmation during the chat, people still want reassurance that their issue was resolved or request submitted. Whether that’s a confirmation number from a chatbot, a text message confirmation, or an email they can reference later, users want concrete proof of their resolution.

Usability testing for chatbots

Every interaction — even automated ones — can influence how consumers perceive your brand, and the chatbot experience is no exception. Offering a chat feature is not just for your customers’ convenience or to save your company money, it’s an opportunity to please your customers. Testing chatbot features for usability may uncover new inquiry keywords, reveal glitches in the AI, and help fine-tune the messaging. If your chat is causing more problems than it’s solving, or if you’d like to find ways to improve your digital user experience, reach out to us.