Chatbot interactions expected to exceed 10 billion by 2027by
New study from Juniper Research highlights the huge uptick in chatbot usage resulting from the recent 'dash to digital' by global brands.
New research has revealed that the number of global interactions with chatbot messaging apps is expected to exceed 10 billion a year by 2027.
The new study from Juniper Research found that the total number of chatbot messaging apps accessed globally is already on course to hit 3.5 billion in 2022, with a continual rapid rise in use likely to mean 9.5 billion by 2026, and more than 10 billion by the following year.
This represents growth of 169% and will be “driven by the increasing adoption of omnichannel retail strategies by eCommerce players and the rising integration of chatbots within messaging platforms”, the research states.
The study, Chatbots: Sector Analysis, Competitor Leaderboard & Market Forecasts 2022-2026, assessed multiple chatbot channels, including browsers, messaging apps and RCS messaging to determine current and future use.
It found that China leads the way for chatbot adoption, with messaging apps such as WeChat in particular proving popular platforms for chatbot interactions. This is in contrast to the relative failure of chatbots on other popular apps such as Facebook Messenger in the US and other Western nations.
It also found that retail spend over chatbot messaging apps will account for over 50% of global chatbot retail spend by 2026. The total spend over chatbot messaging apps in China is expected to surpass $21 billion by 2026.
Death of the 'virtual idiot'?
It’s less than three years since Forrester declared that the majority of chatbots were poorly-implemented, systematically “ruining customer experiences” and – in the case of the worst incarnations – nothing more than “virtual idiots”.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has proven a renaissance for the humble chatbot. Their fate was aided first by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both of which successfully installed and deployed chatbots on their websites at the very start of last year’s pandemic, to provide up-to-date information on the coronavirus – and both were lauded for their successful deployment.
Then there was the dash to digital. As consumers all over the globe were forced indoors due to national lockdowns and curfews, their digital footprint increased exponentially overnight. This led to huge upticks in the use of digital service channels, including messenger platforms, self-service, email and, of course, bots.
NICE inContact research found 67% of consumers using AI-powered conversational technology for customer service in 2020, up from 46% in 2019. As a result, according to Linchpin, 47% of organisations are expected to implement chatbots for customer support services, having been buoyed by the more forgiving consumer response to using them during 2020.
“Chatbots, alongside other self-service channels, like conversational IVR, are quickly becoming ‘must have’ offerings,” says Graham Allen, senior director of product management at NICE inContact.
“Some chatbots are better than others but, until recently, chatbots on digital channels has been an after-thought and a lost opportunity for many businesses. More and more in the last year or so, we’ve seen self-service on digital channels become the expectation.
“Especially through the pandemic, consumers became more enthusiastic about using bots to communicate. Bots can be used to help a consumer around a website as a shortcut to the appropriate information, or even handle full transactions. And contact centres are seeing the value and cost savings in using bots to drive greater efficiencies, with the agents taking the critical or complex questions off their hands at the appropriate point.”
In another recent study, devised by researchers at the University of Göttingen, it was found that not only are consumers now increasingly tolerant of using chatbots, they’re also more forgiving of them than they are of humans.
They found that when chatbots could not resolve a service query, customers were happier to discover that their chat exchange was with a non-human.
“A chatbot is more likely to be forgiven for making a mistake than a human,” says lead author Nika Mozafari, a research assistant in marketing and innovation at the university. “The customer blames neither the company nor the bot, and may even have a positive reaction.”
The paper also discovered that customers “detest addressing important matters with a bot” and also advises brands ensure that customers are made aware when speaking to a non-human at all times, as well as when a conversation is triaged to a human to deal with.
Chris was an Editor at MyCustomer from 2014 to 2022. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News.