Are Consumers Ready for Virtual Assistants to Deliver Customer Services?

Whether you’re a busy entrepreneur, a parent on the go, or a tech-savvy student, the idea of a voice assistant that you can talk to might fill you with absolute glee, even if it simply helps you to communicate with a brand more effectively to improve your customer experience.

Home | Are Consumers Ready for Virtual Assistants to Deliver Customer Services?

Derek Lewis

9th October 2019

by Derek Lewis

Head of Customer Experience

Whether you’re a busy entrepreneur, a parent on the go, or a tech-savvy student, the idea of a voice assistant that you can talk to might fill you with absolute glee, even if it simply helps you to communicate with a brand more effectively to improve your customer experience.

At a time when we seem to be busier than ever, productivity is the magic word. We’re constantly trying to reach the holy productivity grail. Automated voice assistant technology can take us one step closer to offloading or effectively completing the ‘little’ tasks, allowing us to refocus our efforts on the more creative, imaginative, explorative parts of life. There is clearly an appetite for the likes of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant but, equally, where there is demand there is often contempt.

When it comes to brands, today’s consumers are aware of their clout and they aren’t averse to exercising that power. The emergence of GDPR and the permissions process also solidified the importance of customer data, making consumers even more aware of how valuable their personal details are to businesses.

But the impact of that is twofold. While some might use this as an opportunity to gain the best experience from companies, others are more sceptical about their data usage. Ultimately, consumers are split into two camps: advocates who recognise the value of virtual channels and use them in their daily lives, and detractors who fear the security implications of the technology and currently have little or no intention of adoption.

This is precisely where companies get stuck. In our research, it was highlighted that data protection is the key concern, with almost half (47%) claiming to be unwilling to use a virtual assistant to contact a company out of fear that their device could be hacked. And, in close second, 44% say they’re worried about being listened to on their smart devices, which are always on.

With this point of view being so dominant amongst consumers, it isn’t any wonder that the same reluctance is being felt within companies as well. One in five senior decision makers expressed the difficulty in selling the need for virtual assistant technology to their board members. In fact, it was cited as a key obstacle in progressing voice-assisted customer channels.

Despite the consumer objection, companies have at least identified the concerns hindering widespread adoption. Working to improve security by introducing new layers of verification, and being transparent with users about how their data will be collected, used, and stored, will increase the level of trust required to establish voice-assisted technology on a large scale.

If companies take practical steps to iron out these issues, then much like our initial dismay at contactless payments, contempt for virtual assistants could become a thing of the past. Instead, it could be an effective support tool for businesses across their customer contact channels and help consumers with just about everything else.

Click here to read our full research report, ‘Virtual Assistants: The Voice of the Future Business?’ and to learn more about future technology innovations in customer experience. 

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