Study suggests SMS chatbots deliver better customer experiences

Mobile engagement firm OpenMarket has this week revealed the results of a new global chatbots report, which reveals that, across the board, there’s a vast opportunity for businesses to harness SMS-powered chatbots to enhance customer satisfaction and ultimately evoke better overall customer loyalty.

The company polled 1,500 mobile users in the U.S. and UK on their current experiences with—and preferences for—engaging with businesses via chatbots and SMS text messaging. The findings discovered that financial services is the top industry in which consumers would like to see better customer experiences and engagement opportunities via SMS (49 percent), followed by retail (27 percent) and travel and hospitality (24 percent).

As more enterprises look to leverage SMS-powered chatbots as a way to promote two-way communications with customers in 2017, the new survey gathered insights on consumer communication preferences for interacting with preferred businesses—and also identified what consumers find most valuable in their ability to correspond with them, and why.

Text Preferred

The results revealed that across the globe, mobile consumers find it would be “very useful” to be able to respond conversationally via SMS with preferred businesses in all three surveyed industry verticals: financial institutions (63 percent), travel and hospitality companies (54 percent) and retailers (67 percent). When asked why consumers found it useful to text for business services over other communication channels, nearly half (45 percent) of respondents pointed to “not getting put on hold,” “doing it on my own time” and “taking my time to respond” as the top three factors for choosing text messaging.

“Chatbots are getting a lot of attention on the promise of transforming customer interactions, yet to date, there’s been little insight from consumers themselves supporting whether or not they would find value in chatbots as a way to communicate with brands,” said Jay Emmet, general manager for OpenMarket, in a news release. “The survey findings prove that chatbots are more than a short-lived fad. They are an untapped mobile engagement solution that consumers and business could benefit from both from a convenience and financial perspective—a strategy that businesses should be incorporating into their 2017 customer experience initiatives.”

Additional key findings from the survey include:

  • Despite that nearly half (49 percent) of consumers want to engage more conversationally with businesses through SMS, 50 percent of them are not even currently receiving SMS notifications from their financial institutions.
  • Travel and hospitality businesses are missing the mark the most on customer engagement opportunities, with 75 percent of consumers not currently receiving SMS notifications from companies such as hotels, airlines and train operators. Retailers are also not meeting consumer preferences, with 62 percent of consumers not currently receiving SMS notifications from their preferred retailers.
  • The age of those polled ranged from 18 to over 60 years old—signifying the preferences for conversational SMS capabilities across not only specific industries, but also generations.

Download the complete report here.