Dario Betti, CEO of MEF, recently presented the results of the latest MEF survey on the consumer acceptance of automatic messaging services (person to application services, P2A).
The P2A services dealt with in our recent report are the kind of chatbots that are capable of answering consumer questions via mobile messaging services for sales and consumer support.
Now rich messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and RCS provide new levels of interactivity, while artificial intelligence and machine learning are improving to the ability of the bots to understand questions and commands in natural language. If the experience has been vastly enhanced, are consumers ready to take on the new services?
The results of our survey showed a positive reaction to the idea of chatbots. There are still areas to develop and to take into consideration though: from use cases to discovery.
1) Consumers Are Ready For ‘Bots’
55% of smartphone users are ready to converse with robots (chatbots or Person-to-Application/P2A). Only 24% of the respondents refused to speak to machines and would rather engage directly with a human.
2) Use Cases Sell Chatbots
81% of the users can see themselves engaging via P2A messaging. Specific use cases are more likely to engage users than the concept of chatting to a robot.
Here only 16% of user would rather speak to a human – users are more comfortable when presented with the specific use case than the generic knowledge of interacting with an automated system.
3) Making appointments, asking for help and leaving a complaint
These are the most likely use cases to be considered by users for P2A messaging. 29% of smartphone users are happy to book an appointment via P2A chat, 27% would ask for help to a bot, but only 17% would be asking for a service upgrade or 16% would be interested in monitoring spending.
4) Messaging advantage: less waiting
P2A is generally seen as requiring less waiting time, with only 31% of people associating messaging with long time lags, while voice see that at 36%.
The discussion in the briefing pointed out that the acceptance of P2A might also be linked to the quality offered by existing call centers in the country.
Voice is still seen as the more efficient way to solve queries, considered to be more private, more personal and more secure.
6) Voice & messaging are close behind though
31% of users prefer calling, but many are open to mixing both depending on the situation (28%), 21% would prefer the new P2A messaging chats channel.
7) Chinese Users are leading the world in P2A
The acceptance and availability of P2A messaging in OTT messaging solutions such as WeChat makes China the leading market in the field. Here savvy users see P2A as highly useful for routine questions (47%).
8) Users Expects To Start P2A Chats From The Web
While behavior will change with the emergence of this new technology, today users expect to start chats from the web or via existing phone numbers (such as the brand short-codes or call centers numbers).
9) Women are less likely to accept “chatbots” than men
27% of women would want to speak to a human instead, and only 22% among men. Young users (16-24) are more likely to want to deal with a P2A service.
10) P2A: small, but already sizeable and growing.
A first evaluation from MEF estimates the number of users that were using P2A or similar services at 321 million globally (January 2020). This is larger than expected, there are sizeable volumes in China, the first global market, followed by the USA the second largest market. P2A is already an important reality, but it has a long way to mature to the level or application to person business messaging ( A2P). There were 2.1 billion users that received A2P messages during January 2020.
Users can now message businesses and get immediate discursive communications via an application. The advance of artificial intelligence makes meaningful chat with bots a possibility, but are human users ready to use them?
MEF’s P2A Business Messaging 2020 report is based on 6500 interviews across 10 countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, UK, USA.