Increasingly more companies are utilizing chatbots in client service. Due to advances in expert system and natural language processing, chatbots are typically indistinguishable from people when it pertains to communication. But should business let their clients understand that they are communicating with machines and not with human beings? Researchers at the University of Göttingen examined. Their research study found that consumers tend to respond negatively when they find out that the person they are talking to is, in reality, a chatbot. However, if the chatbot makes mistakes and can not solve a customer’s problem, the disclosure triggers a favorable response. The results of the study were released in the Journal of Service Management.

Previous studies have revealed that consumers have an unfavorable reaction when they learn that they are interacting with chatbots– it appears that customers are naturally averse to the technology. In two experimental studies, the Göttingen University team examined whether this is constantly the case. Each research study had 200 individuals, each of whom was taken into the scenario where they had to contact their energy company through online chat to upgrade their address on their electricity contract following a move. In the chat, they came across a chatbot– but only half of them were informed that they were talking online with a non-human contact. The first research study investigated the impact of making this disclosure depending upon how important the customer perceives the resolution of their service inquiry to be. In a 2nd research study, the team examined the effect of making this disclosure depending on whether the chatbot had the ability to deal with the consumer’s inquiry or not. To examine the results, the team used statistical analyses such as covariance and mediation analysis.

The result: most significantly, if service issues are perceived as especially essential or vital, there is an unfavorable response when it is exposed that the conversation partner is a chatbot. This scenario weakens customer trust. Interestingly, nevertheless, the results likewise reveal that revealing that the contact was a chatbot causes positive customer reactions in cases where the chatbot can not deal with the client’s concern. “If their concern isn’t solved, disclosing that they were talking with a chatbot, makes it simpler for the customer to understand the origin of the error,” says first author Nika Mozafari from the University of Göttingen. “A chatbot is most likely to be forgiven for slipping up than a human.” In this circumstance, consumer loyalty can even improve.

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Materials supplied by University of Göttingen. Keep in mind: Content might be edited for style and length.