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No Bots Please We Are Europeans!

October 10th, 2016

Lately, you cannot listen to a top tech company event keynote without hearing both about how they plan to use Artificial Intelligence in everything they do and how we will be all be conversing with bots in the near future.

Being a somewhat humanized personal assistant like Alexa, Siri, Cortana or a more generic one like Google Assistant or even nameless ones, we all be exchanging information with some form of chat-bot on steroids. While bots will be smart they might not know everything about us and they will depend on our willingness to interact with them.

At Creative Strategies we set out to ask 1250 consumers across the top 5 European markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK) how they felt about digital assistants and interacting with bots.

Eighteen percent of our European panel said to be using a voice assistant every day. Another 22% use a voice assistant four to six times a week and 39% use it between one and three times a week. Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google are slowly but steadily creeping into our lives and we seem pretty happy about it. Thirty-three present of the panel said that it is more convenient to speak than to type and another 25% think it is actually fun to use. While not everybody is quite a believer yet trying it out does not seem to be a big problem as 28% did just that. Only 15% of the panel said they are more comfortable typing than speaking reflecting the fact that the panel did not include Gen Z consumers who will be more likely to embrace voice and touch first UIs.

Despite our familiarity with, and interest in voice assistants, we seem to be happier to interact with them in a more casual fun way than rely on them for life-critical operations. When it comes to interacting with bots in a more business environment consumers would prefer to interact with bots in the car (27%) and in the home (26%). When it comes to banking, something that many consumer still do not trust doing on a mobile phone, consumers preference to have a bot interaction drops to a mere 12%.

Interacting with a bot vs. preferring to interact with a bot are, however, two very different things right now. Only 19% of consumers said they would prefer to speak to an automated personal assistant. The number grew to 26% with iPhone users. While 52% of men and women prefer an interaction with a human, women seem to show less of a clear preference between human and robots as 30% of them vs. 27% of men are ambivalent.

It is not a surprise to see the preference for bots to be proportional to age. The younger the user the higher the preference to interact with an automated smart assistant: 30% of the 16 to 24 year olds compared to 14% of the 55 to 64-year-old. Being notified whether or not the exchange you are having is with a human or a bot matters pretty equally across the age groups.

The more we will turn to a digital assistant or a bot for day to day little things the more dependent we will become on them. The more positive interactions we will have the more we will trust them with more complex and important tasks.

Carolina Milanesi

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