UAE: Human or chatbot? Here's what 90% of residents prefer for customer support

For straightforward tasks and repetitive enquiries social media systems can better handle customer services, finds survey

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Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 6 Feb 2024, 2:33 PM

Last updated: Tue 6 Feb 2024, 3:47 PM

Nearly nine out of ten people – 90 per cent – of UAE residents prefer to interact and communicate with human customer service executives rather than chatbots or generative AI, according to a new study.

Launched by e-commerce player Zbooni, the survey found that 85 per cent of UAE customers want businesses to offer customer support through WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in the UAE followed by Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and others.

More than 8 out of 10 people say that WhatsApp is the easiest way to get quick, accurate responses from a business, as well as more helpful than email when chatting to businesses. This is compared to 55 per cent who contacted a call centre, 48 per cent who emailed and 29 per cent who used Facebook.

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For straightforward tasks and repetitive enquiries, these systems can quickly handle customer tickets. If the organisation has human support agents, chatbots can handle easier tasks and then hand over complex ones to humans. But for most consumers, an end-to-end customer journey with a real person ticks the boxes, Zbooni said.

The UAE has 10 million social media users, spending an average of 2 hours and 18 minutes. Around 30 per cent of them use social media to buy items. The poll was conducted at the end of 2023 among 1,000 UAE residents.

“People still prefer genuine human interaction over bots or AI. While there’s a place for automation, especially for handling simple, repetitive tasks, humans still respond with more empathy, warmth and personalisation,” said Ramy Assaf, co-founder and CEO of Zbooni.

He added with such a strong demand for WhatsApp from customers, businesses should look at ways to use it to improve customer experiences and drive sales.

Last year, Zbooni’s poll revealed that nearly two-thirds of UAE consumers used WhatsApp to contact businesses about products and services as compared to 55 per cent using a call centre, 48 per cent using email, and under 30 per cent using social media inboxes.

Assaf added that many businesses still haven’t embraced the idea of bringing WhatsApp into their operations.

“They may fear the implications of having to reply quickly or of using such an intimate channel with their customers. But the people have spoken and in such a competitive environment, businesses must listen to customer demands,” he added.

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