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LivePerson’s 2020 Consumer Preferences for Conversational Commerce Report Reveals Skyrocketing Demand for Messaging and Conversational AI

Survey examines consumer attitudes toward conversational commerce
85% of consumers worldwide would like to message with brands, up from 65% last year
75% report they’d spend more with brands that offer messaging, up from 49%

LivePerson, Inc., a global leader in conversational AI, announced the findings of its 2020 Consumer Preferences for Conversational Commerce report examining consumer attitudes and preferences around brand interactions, messaging, and conversational AI and commerce. The survey of more than 5,000 adults in six countries found that messaging and conversational AI are more widely adopted and trusted than ever before, with the overwhelming majority of consumers of all ages reporting a strong desire to message with brands.

For the first time, older consumers are showing the same level of interest in messaging with brands as younger demographics. In addition, vast majorities of consumers now report they’d be more likely to do business with and spend more with brands that allow them to message rather than call.

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As the COVID pandemic continues to limit in-person interactions and keeps employees out of call centers, brands are rapidly rolling out the option for consumers to connect with them via popular messaging channels such as SMS, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, Google RCS, LINE, and WeChat, as well as native messaging on brand websites and mobile apps. By layering in automation and conversational AI, brands are scaling their reach through messaging and providing faster, more convenient experiences fronted by bots available 24/7 for consumer inquiries and purchases.

The 2020 Consumer Preferences for Conversational Commerce report showed that while consumer interest in messaging and conversational AI experiences is accelerating, brands need to pay attention to conversational design to deliver more helpful, personalized experiences.

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The report is based on a September 2020 survey including respondents from the United StatesUnited KingdomFranceGermanyJapan, and Australia. Key findings are summarized below:

Global interest in messaging with brands is at an all-time high

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  • People of all ages around the world overwhelmingly want the option to message with brands, up from 65% in 2019 to 85% in 2020.
  • Among US respondents, interest in using messaging to interact with brands rose significantly, from 62% in 2019 to 86% this year.
  • The European countries surveyed had the highest average demand for messaging, with France’s figures above 90%.

Consumers of all ages report increased interest in messaging with brands

  • The youngest group of people surveyed, 18-24 years of age, were just as likely to want messaging options as the oldest group, 65 and older — 82% of both groups want to message with brands.
  • 35-44 year olds express the highest interest in messaging with brands, with 88% saying they want the ability to do so.

Conversational AI use cases are expanding from customer care into marketing and sales

  • Customer service tasks are the most widely encountered use cases for chatbots, with 68% of respondents who have used a chatbot in the last year saying they’ve used them for customer support.
  • Consumer use of bots to make purchases continues to rise. Assistance in making a purchase was the second most common use case in 2020.
  • 71% of consumers say they’d be more likely to do business with a company that allows them to message rather than call.
  • 75% report they’d spend more with a brand that offers messaging instead of phone calls, up from 49% in 2019.
  • Conversational AI is considered on par with human assistance in many cases. For tasks like checking an account balance or updating an address, more than 50% of consumers prefer to use bots over interacting with humans.

Familiarity with conversational AI continues to grow, with some regional variations

  • The overall number of people who state, “Yes, I have used a chatbot in the past year” increased from 60% in 2019 to 75%.
  • In the US, there has been a notable increase in bot usage, with respondents saying they’ve “never” interacted with a bot falling from 32% last year to just 22%.
  • Consumers in the UK report that the highest levels of bot usage, with over 80% of respondents having used one, while Japan reported the largest count of “never” responses: 39%.

Positive sentiment toward conversational AI is up, but there’s room for improvement

  • Most people feel “neutral” toward chatbots. 31% of respondents worldwide feel positive, and 18% feel negative.
  • Unlike perceptions of messaging in general, which are positive across age groups, people up to age 54 are more positive toward bots than the oldest groups.
  • In the US there has been a noticeable positive shift in the way that US respondents perceive bots. In 2018, just 13% called their overall feelings toward chatbots “positive,” but this has almost tripled, increasing to 20% in 2019 and 35% in 2020.
  • The number of people with negative feelings has dropped from around 28% in 2019 to 18% in 2020. Consumers report that they value the speed, ease of use, and convenience of bots but are wary of a lack of human touch and personality — a key weakness of bots that are created with too little attention to conversational design

“The evidence is clear: AI-powered messaging experiences are more in demand than ever before. Consumers around the world are clamoring for them, and they’ll even spend more money with brands that give them what they want,” said Robert LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson. “Brands that embrace conversational AI and infuse it with human qualities like empathy, love, and understanding will outperform their competitors and reach the cutting edge of customer service, marketing, and sales.”

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