Chatbots and buying medicine - Consumers still unconvinced
February 1st, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

Chatbots and buying medicine - Consumers still unconvinced

Times and tech are evolving. As AI and ML (machine learning) continue to become an integral part of business systems the world over, the AI market is expected to reach the USD 500 billion mark by 2024. Hearing the siren call of greater cost savings and increased efficiency of automating operations, brands like Frontier Airlines are starting to make the move from human interaction to customer service chatbots. However, are consumers really satisfied with this new customer service experience? Do they really think chatbots are useful?

A recent YouGov Surveys poll – conducted across 18 global markets - paints a grim picture. Almost a third of consumers globally (29%) think that customer service chatbots would not be useful when purchasing any of the given categories of products or services online.

Less than a fifth of consumers say customer service chatbots can be useful when buying mobile phones (16%) and electronics (16%) online, and this number continues to drop as we move down the list.

An equal but significantly lesser proportion of consumers believe in the usefulness of such chatbots when shopping online for medicines and healthcare products (11%), out-of-home entertainment services (11%) and cosmetics (11%).

Taking a closer look at consumers who selected medicines and healthcare products by country reveals some interesting differences.

A quarter of consumers in India (25% - the highest of all markets) think that customer service chatbots can be helpful while purchasing medicines and healthcare products online. However, consumers across other APAC markets (Indonesia, 16%; Singapore, 13%; China, 12%; Hong Kong, 12%; Australia, 10%) are much less likely to agree.

North American consumers remain similarly divided in their opinions. While one in five consumers in Mexico (20%) think chatbots can be useful when buying healthcare products online, less than a tenth of consumers in Canada (8%) and the US (8%) say the same.

Like their counterparts in Mexico, almost a fifth of consumers in the UAE (19%) believe in the usefulness of chatbots while shopping online for medicines and healthcare products.

Though more than a tenth of consumers in Germany (13%), Italy (12%) and Spain (11%) think customer service chatbots are useful when buying medicines and healthcare products online, such chatbots are yet to make a strong impact on consumers across other European markets – especially France (6%), Denmark (5%) and Great Britain (5%).

Evidently, when it comes to customer service chatbots, the jury is still out. Brands across industries, especially pharmaceuticals and healthcare brands, face the up-hill challenge of making the ‘chatbot’ experience satisfying for consumers and establishing its importance as part of a broader customer service strategy.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 431 and 1,572 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in December 2022. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.