Automation - what do customers and consumers really want?
Hubspot had invited me this week to Munich to present a new study and its event "Grow with HubSpot", which under the name "Hype vs. Reality" investigates which new technologies consumers really want. For this purpose, the inbound Marketeer end of 2017 interviewed a total of 7.406 people worldwide from all age groups and both sexes.
The result is actually no big surprise: technologies with a high popularity are perceived as very useful and are widely accepted. These include, for example, Google Maps, live chat offers on websites or music streaming services. On the other hand, more complex innovations such as cryptocurrencies have a more difficult status.
Acceptance of tools: The more useful the more popular
Actually, no surprise: navigation systems like Google Maps uses almost everyone. They are by far the most in use and therefore have the highest enforcement: 67% have already used such services and are planning to use 8%.
This is probably due to the versatility of the services that offer additional information in addition to route planning, such as restaurants, hotels or shops with opening hours and ratings.
What also becomes clear in the study, but actually no surprise is that Germans tend to be more critical of new technologies than other countries. The most difficult to understand respondents find complex technologies that are rarely present in everyday life.
These include, for example, crypto currencies (29%), blockchain (29%), neural networks (27%) or initial coin offerings (27%). Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin also overvaluate more than one in four, followed by self-driving cars (22%) and artificial intelligence (20%). Personal shopping offers, contactless payment and language assistants, on the other hand, are still viewed critically by many consumers, as they do not yet offer any direct added value.
In their presentation, Inken Kuhlmann, Senior Manager Growing Market at HubSpot, said: "If an innovation does not immediately reveal everyday benefits, it will be harder for consumers to gain recognition, but sometimes they are unaware which technologies are already in use and omnipresent.
Artificial intelligence, for example, is not always recognized as such. "And it's always about convincing people that new solutions are better than what they already know and use routinely." It's like standing on a plateau and waiting what happens next ", says Kuhlemann.
Underrated development cycles
Also, many people underestimated the development cycles, probably from past experience. Because even if many technical developments needed a longer period of time in the past, this need not necessarily apply to the future. And: "People tend to underestimate the importance of technological developments and dismiss them as unimportant if they do not understand them and do not use them concretely in everyday life."
A good example of this could be the meaning of Artificial Intelligence. This is because a closer look at the use of the AI shows that it is more present in many people's everyday lives than they believe - and because it often only acts in the background.
Artificial intelligence - positive or negative?
Although only 6% have been using AI in their work so far, more 43% plan to do so within the next five years. In particular, younger respondents tend to believe that artificial intelligence will have an impact on their professional activities in the near future, while older respondents for the most part (65%) do not expect any impact.
In general, the majority of respondents (54%) believe that AI will have some positive or very positive effects on the world, 21% do not expect any influences and 25% expect some negative or very negative consequences.
Not afraid of job loss
It is noticeable that especially German respondents are more pessimistic about the international comparison and more people have rather negative (38%) than positive (34%) expectations.
Inken Kuhlmann does not see the danger that AI will replace people's jobs, however. When asked about the dismissal of Zalando's entire marketing department, she discovered that AI created just as many new jobs. "Maybe the areas of activity will shift," she said.
Chat offers in customer service especially popular
Chat offers on a website, for example in customer service, as well as via messenger are also among the most popular services: 39% already have one website and 30% one messenger with one Company each 10% intends to do so in the future.
It is noticeable that German consumers in particular are much more reluctant to use new offers and technologies: only 28% have used website chat so far and only 10% has communicated with a company via Facebook Messenger.
Great potential for product sales
According to the Hub Spot study, chat offerings therefore have great potential for customer service and product sales. 44% of European respondents are open to chat with customer service. More than a quarter would also buy a product via chat, such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
However, Europe's acceptance of these services is far behind other regions, such as Asia and, above all, Latin America, where nearly three-quarters (71%) would contact customer service and more than half (58%) would order a product through it , It is also becoming apparent that especially younger respondents (40%) want to use messenger services more frequently in the future. For older people this is only 20%.
Differentiate between man and machine
Exciting on this topic was the discussion that emerged during the presentation on this topic: According to Inken Kuhlmann on demand, one had to differentiate between chat partners and chatbots, which became more and more popular among companies. It is important to make it clear to the customer that there is a bot on the other end of the PC. Kuhlemann reported on his own tests with chatbots, where customers falsely believed they were chatting with a real person.
The further course of our discussion shows that there is still room for improvement in chatbots: The quality of the answers always depends on how well the software is programmed. "Customers also irritate the system, offend the bot sometimes and look at what happens and how far they can go," Kuhlemann knows from experience. Therefore, each company must individually consider which scenarios are conceivable and then implement them technically.
Conclusion: It depends on the right mix
Chatbots and automated messenger services rely heavily on the right mix: "It makes sense, for example, to let customers chat with bots for more general inquiries and then hand them over to people for more specific queries," says Kuhlemann.
All in all, it was an exciting event that did not offer any big surprises and eye-opening effects, but provided interesting insights into marketing automation and new technical possibilities in this area. But it should also be clear: Germany is far more technology-critical than other countries in international comparison.
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