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Survey Shows Frustration with Traditional Approach to AI

Speech tech providers should realize that people expect any voice communications on a smartphone to be very short and will shy away from voice recognition “help” that is often more frustrating than helpful because the actual speech recognition is poor, says Abinash Tripathy, founder and CSO at Helpshift. 

Tripathy based his comments on the findings of a recent customer survey conducted for his company that found that 66% of Americans feel that voice-based digital assistants are more unsettling than text-based ones, meaning that Americans find chatbots and digital assistants likable while more advanced AI technologies are far behind their promised service, so they are more frustrating than helpful.

He adds that speech technology providers have to move away from traditional technologies, which tend to have a 75% speech recognition rate, and move to technologies employing deep learning and neural networks, which boost the recognition rate to 90% to 95%. Customer support must also change in a big way, according to Tripathy. The most successful brands, like Amazon, Apple, and Google have removed automated speech response now moved into a digital experience and away from a phone experience. Those companies seek to provide help through their websites or mobile apps, rather than IVR or speech recognition. Then if voice communications are needed, these companies rely on an outbound calling approach rather than an inbound approach.

The Helpshift survey also found that a majority of Americans (57%) feel that it has not improved in the past few years, and 74% agree that contacting customer support is a frustrating experience. The frustration tends to come from:

  • Long wait and hold times — 60%
  • Being transferred and having to repeat the problem over and over — 59%
  • Never-ending automated “self-service” menus — 50%
  • Difficulties communicating with agents in offshore contact centers — 49%
  • Poor levels of service — 41%

It’s so frustrating, in fact, that many (44%) would rather spend 30 minutes cleaning a bathroom than waiting on hold for customer service; 26% would rather spend 30 minutes at the dentist; 25% would rather sit in traffic or visit their in-laws; and 24% would rather do their taxes.

The survey also revealed the perceived pros and cons of chatbots. Americans’ top pet peeve about them is that they feel chatbots prevent them from reaching an actual human (51%), and a majority (77%) get annoyed if they have to type more than four responses to a chatbot.

On the other hand:

  • If forced to leave a brand’s website or app to reach customer support, almost half of Americans (47%) would take their business elsewhere.
  • Three-quarters (76%) say chat-based messaging would be their preferred method of contacting customer support if they knew they would get an immediate response.
  • Ninety-two percent feel it is important to be able to return to a conversation with a customer service agent at a later point and pick up where they left off.

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