UAE: 9 out of 10 residents are unhappy with customer service chatbots

UAE: 9 out of 10 residents are unhappy with customer service chatbots

Nine out of 10 UAE residents prefer to deal with human customer service agents rather than automated chatbots to resolve their concerns, according to a poll conducted by Khaleej Times.

In the quick poll, readers were asked: ‘Chatbots are replacing humans across UAE customer service centres. Are they effective?’ “Yes, they're quick and get the job done,” replied 217 respondents. But more than 2,100 people were not impressed by chatbots. The ratio was 9 to 1 who said “(chatbots) are hopeless. I want to speak to a human.”

The online survey is consistent with a report published early this month that says 90 per cent of UAE residents prefer to interact and communicate with human customer service executives rather than chatbots or generative AI (artificial intelligence).

This reveals an issue raised by experts as well -

“some companies have used inadequate technology or deployed one poorly.”

Chatbots are computer programmes or software solutions that provide pre-determined replies or messages to deal with straightforward tasks and repetitive enquiries in a conversational format. Banks, for example, use virtual assistants to provide information on account balance, how to apply for a credit card or open an account, where to find the nearest branch, and information on office timings.

Chatbots enable businesses to communicate with customers all the time.

“But they’re not yet capable to provide us with sufficient information on more complex problems,”

noted long-time Dubai resident James Angeles.

“I would oftentimes end up in a circuitous conversation with a chatbot because it could not figure out what I really wanted,”

added the 45-year old project engineer.

This brings into question the quality of chatbots deployed by companies in the country.

Customer service expert Mark Hamill, who is CEO of Arcet Global, had a straightforward observation.

“Not all bots are created equal,”

he noted, adding:

“The truth is majority of UAE residents simply haven’t had a great experience with bots because the companies have used inadequate technology and/or have deployed one so poorly.”

“Companies should understand that they do not only need suitable technology but they should also understand how to execute it correctly. If you would like a laugh, a quick google search of 'DPD/Chevrolet ChatGPT' would show you how it can go hilariously wrong.”

‘Keep humans in the loop’

Hamill said,

“I'm a firm believer in keeping a human in the loop. There should always be the option for customers to reach a person, if they so wish. It is likely that a lot of repetitive customer communications can be dealt with by bots, but it requires a solid foundation of an accurate knowledge base and an understanding of what customers need.”

Hamill, whose company deals with customer experiences, is also cognisant of the fact that

“technology has taken a massive leap forward with the introduction of large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT and Google AI, Gemini, that learn by ‘reading’ trillions of words that help them pick up on patterns and reply to questions in common language."

Best practices

“There are many examples of fantastic deployments, even in the UAE, but best practice is to start with small simple use cases, such as having the bot verify the customer whilst they wait, answering simple FAQ’s or providing other self-service tasks,”

Hamill said.

“Not only does this save the customer time but reduces the human agents' workload so they can focus on fixing customer issues. We have seen case studies of successful implementations where call wait times have been reduced from an average of 20 minutes to just 6 seconds by following this formula,”

he added.

Meanwhile, the recent survey conducted by e-commerce company Zbooni found that 85 per cent of UAE customers want businesses to offer customer support through WhatsApp for straightforward tasks and repetitive enquiries.

Ramy Assaf, co-founder and CEO of Zbooni, said there is a strong demand from customers for businesses to look for ways to improve customer experiences.

He also noted,

“While there’s a place for automation, especially in handling simple, repetitive tasks, humans still respond with more empathy, warmth and personalisation.”

‘Not averse to technology’

“The fact, however, that 85 per cent of customers would rather resolve their issue on WhatsApp, suggests that consumers are not averse when it comes to using technology,”

Hamill underscored.

He warned companies

“not go to for cheap options which are usually one channel website only.”

“There are really good ones that have the same machine linked to the actual system of the company and they have brand consistency,”

Hamill noted positively, adding:

“I am sure that we will see some fantastic implementations of bots (voice, email, chat, etc.) in the UAE this year.”

“On that basis, I’d be inclined to believe that it could be 90:10 next year again – but that time it will be the other way around.”

News Source: Khaleej Times

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