Businesses hail chatbots as the next big service tool, but the public is apprehensive

NewVoiceMedia,a leading global provider of cloud technology, which helps businesses sell more, serve better and grow faster, has found that while self-help options continue to advance, 68 percent of U.S. citizens would still prefer a live agent to handle their customer service queries.

Are businesses ready to replace agents with bots?

Recent media coverage has tunneled into the chatbot developments of companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple. Many are hailing AI as the future of customer service, and companies are quickly jumping on the bandwagon, eager to deploy their own smart communication solutions. However, NewVoiceMedia’s poll of more than 1,000 U.S. citizens shows that customers may not be ready for a complete AI service overhaul.

  • 68 percent of respondents claim they would prefer to interact with a live agent rather than automated self-help (FAQs/guided support, dial directories, chatbots, etc.) when dealing with customer service
  • 9 percent prefer the self-help option and 24 percent feel they appreciate both options equally
  • Below is a breakdown of customers’ preferences for automated self-help or live agent help in different customer service situations:
Type of serviceSelf-helpLive agent
Technical support13%86%
Financial reporting22%56%
Appointment booking41%52%
Purchase inquiries24%64%
None (Do not prefer in any of the above categories)39%4%
  • When asked in which areas customer service should improve, 63 percent of respondents indicated personalised service, 66 percent availability, 71 percent response time, 29 percent do-it-yourself options, 40 percent number of communication options and 3 percent none.

“It’s not that technological advancements cannot improve the customer experience. They absolutely can. But companies must first have a foundation of good support built on fundamentals that include phone functionality and in-depth customer insights”, comments Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia. “Many companies have much to improve within their existing policies and procedures. Our survey shows the number one complaint in customer service continues to be response time, and that is a simple infrastructure issue”.

For further information about NewVoiceMedia, visit

The data for this survey was collected using SurveyMonkey Audience and 1,019 respondents. Information on how respondents are recruited to SurveyMonkey is available here: