At the end of last year, I started to notice a shift in people's expectations regarding customer service live chats. It started to feel like general expectation was to receive assistance from an AI rather than a customer service representative. On Black Friday, to confirm or debunk my observation, I posted a question to both LinkedIn and Twitter asking:

When you use a live chat on a company website, are you expecting service from a human or a chatbot?

Following up on the initial conversation starters, I posted my question to Quora. You should check out answers (there are some excellent ones).

My small research is no by no means a scientific study of any sorts, and I realise that the sample size is minimal. Besides, I'm probably looking at results through a strong bias (I do sell a human-directed AI chatbot platform after all). In any case, I promised to share my findings, so here they are. The short answer to the questions human vs machine is:

It does not matter.

Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Let’s look at the full story then. First of all, how did I arrive at these results? You can check all the comments in Linkedin here and here, on Quora here plus Twitter poll’s (with a fairly limited amount of answers) results are visible in the blog where I present the question in the first place. Note that I have collected all the answers on January 30th, 2019 and the conversations might have moved on since.

If you check out all the comments and answers from the links above, you notice three points:

  1. Customers just want to get an answer to their question. Quickly.
  2. Customers want to know if they are discussing with an AI or a human.
  3. If the first method (in this case AI) fails, there needs to be a fall-back option (human) to give them the answer.

Anna Alppinen said it best:

"There should have been a third answer in between! I think it doesn't matter which it is as long as I get a quick answer to get started and the matter is solved”

I was hoping that I would find people expecting chatbot over a human. As said, my view on this is biased. That being said, the results are not surprising. The findings are supported by my experiences throughout 2018 when discussing all things chatbots, live chat, and customer experience with hundreds of people. I even have two earlier Linkedin post on the topic:

What are your thoughts on this? When you use a live chat on a company website, are you expecting service from a human or a chatbot? Does it even matter?