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Chatbot anthropomorphism : Adoption and acceptance in customer service

Raunio, Katja (2021) Chatbot anthropomorphism : Adoption and acceptance in customer service.

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Abstract:Purpose – Robots are becoming more common in customer service. Customer service chatbots are made to create a better customer experience, increase satisfaction and engagement. These conversational agents are getting more advances due to progress in artificial intelligence, and their appearance and conversational tone can be extremely human-like. Since many firms want to either replace or support their existing customer service with chatbots, it is important to examine how the customer experience can be improved. However, there is a lack of studies concerning how appearance and conversational style influence users’ adoption and acceptance of chatbots. This study aimed to explore how human characteristics in chatbots influence attitudes towards using chatbots, concentrating on the visual (human/robot/logo) and conversational style (formal/informal). Design and Methodology – The study used an online experimental 3x2 between-subjects design followed by a questionnaire to explore users’ (N=339) perceptions of the perceived usefulness, ease of use, helpfulness, competence, trust, and attitude towards using chatbots of an e-commerce chatbot in a customer service setting. Additionally, 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted to further explore how users feel about chatbots' visual appearance and conversational style. Results – The results of the online experiment show that there is no significant effect of human appearance or conversational style on the perceived ease of use, usefulness, helpfulness, competence, trust towards chatbots, or attitude towards using chatbots in the future. The results of the interview showed that users prefer a human or a robot avatar and the informal conversational style. Emojis are appreciated as they create a friendly atmosphere but should not be used in difficult situations. Additionally, the interviews showed that the chatbots do not significantly differ in their perceived ease of use, usefulness, helpfulness, or competence. However, users want to use chatbots in simple interactions which the bot is competent enough to provide useful assistance. In general, users trust chatbots unless they must share private or sensitive information with them. Furthermore, chatbot users would like to know when they are interacting with a bot instead of a human customer service agent. Discussion – A customer service chatbot should have an informal, friendly conversational style. Emojis should be used sparingly, and not in serious interactions where the customer might be distressed. Furthermore, a chatbot should not pretend to be a human and disclose themselves as a robot. Moreover, users might be hesitant to share private information with a chatbot, so access to a human customer service agent is recommended. These results can be particular for anyone interested in chatbots, as well as scholars, conversational designers, chatbot developers, and copywriters.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/86151
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