While shopping online today (it's Black Friday, so I presume everyone is), did you receive help from retailers' customer support team via live chat? If so, do you know if that helper was a real person or a chatbot?

At least in Nordics, most if not all companies play nice and tell if they utilise a chatbot. So if you think it was a human, you are most likely correct (according to The Guardian, it is not always that easy to tell humans and bots apart). However, what has recently surprised me is that consumers expectations are turning towards bots over humans. To be clear, the change itself is not surprising, but the speed and timing are as I wasn't expecting this to happen this year.

I don't have any hard evidence of this (yet), and I'm basing this on a bunch conversations I have had this fall on and off work. In these conversations, quite a few people have commented that they were pleasantly surprised after receiving help via a live chat while shopping. Those who had had an actual chat conversation told that it was handy and solved all their questions - as one would expect it to do.

However, here comes the exciting part: In nearly all of these conversations, it was said that the chatbot was super useful and they loved the service. However, having some insights into the industry and the companies discussed, I happen to know that it was a human - not a chatbot - assisting in these cases.

So my question now is, has the scale tipped and do we now, as consumers, expect the first line of online customer service to be handled by chatbots? To put it another way:

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

Participate in the Twitter poll (open next few days) or tell your opinion in the comments. 👇 The race is on!

This blog was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse (November 23, 2018). Read the original here.