SYDNEY: Though artificial intelligence is evolving quickly, consumers remain wary of the technology and prefer chatbots to stay simple with guided options, according to an Australian expert.

Douglas Nicol, founder of On Message – Australia’s first messaging agency – explained that the public at large is yet to catch up with the enthusiasm of marketers for futuristic chat solutions. In fact, consumers expect simpler chatbot formats which directly address their issues, rather than showcase the latest and greatest AI technology.

“There is an innate fear amongst Australian consumers of machines and what machines can do to us in the future,” Nicol told the Mumbrella MSIX conference in Sydney. “So the question is how do you navigate this world, because the world of artificial intelligence is changing everything.”

Nicol discovered that what people wanted is their hand being held with guided choices and a menu-driven approach with yes/no decisions. (For more, read WARC’s report: The secret to chatbot engagement? Keep it simple.)

“Lesson number one is that you don’t need to actually get really fancy in this world, and actually, just by being really menu-driven you can actually achieve a lot of success,” he reported.

“You’re far better off starting with guided choices and not going for the full natural language processing (NLP). And then, over time, once you’ve got the right mix of content and engagement on the chatbot, you can start to introduce NLP.”

Nicol also warned brands against merely using chatbots as a gimmick or to win awards – chatbots should focus on creating a better customer experience for the user.

“Quite frankly, there’s a lot of (marketers) who treat this as a marketing fashion accessory, and not actually as a serious strategic move. They regard it as a way of winning awards but not really solving a fundamental problem in the consumer’s life (or) actually looking at this as an important new channel,” he said.

“If you treat this channel as a marketing fashion accessory where you’re just going to spam people and have a bit of sales promotion fun, you’ll probably fail, because your job in the world of artificial intelligence is not to show off, and is not to make the brand the hero,” Nicol asserted.

Sourced from WARC