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Consumers around the world want to engage with retailers using SMS chatbots, study finds

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There is a vast opportunity for businesses to harness SMS-powered chatbots to enhance customer satisfaction and ultimately evoke better overall customer loyalty.

So finds a study by mobile engagement company OpenMarket, that finds a third of consumers would like to see the tech more widely used in retail to make contact and engagement work better.

As more enterprises look to leverage SMS-powered chatbots as a way to promote two-way communications with customers in 2017, OpenMarket’s chatbot survey gathered insights on consumer communication preferences for interacting with preferred businesses. The survey also identified what consumers find most valuable in their ability to correspond with them, and why.

The results revealed that across the globe, mobile consumers find it would be “very useful” to be able to respond conversationally via SMS with preferred businesses in all three surveyed industry verticals: financial institutions (63%), travel and hospitality companies (54%), and retailers (67%).

When asked why consumers found it useful to text for business services over other communication channels, nearly half (45%) of respondents pointed to “not getting put on hold,” “doing it on my own time,” and “taking my time to respond” as the top three factors for choosing text messaging.

“Chatbots are getting a lot of attention on the promise of transforming customer interactions, yet to date, there’s been little insight from consumers themselves supporting whether or not they would find value in chatbots as a way to communicate with brands,” says Jay Emmet, general manager for OpenMarket. “The survey findings prove that chatbots are more than a short-lived fad. They are an untapped mobile engagement solution that consumers and business could benefit from both from a convenience and financial perspective – a strategy that businesses should be incorporating into their 2017 customer experience initiatives.”

Despite that nearly half (49%) of consumers want to engage more conversationally with businesses through SMS, 50% of them are not even currently receiving SMS notifications from their financial institutions.

Travel and hospitality businesses are missing the mark the most on customer engagement opportunities, with 75% of consumers not currently receiving SMS notifications from companies such as hotels, airlines and train operators. Retailers are also not meeting consumer preferences, with 62% of consumers not currently receiving SMS notifications from their preferred retailers.

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