Chatbots in Malaysia ‘deeply frustrating’ but potential remains ‘huge’, report says

Brands are increasingly turning to chatbots in Malaysia but few are delivering a positive customer experience, a white paper into the technology has found.

Digital agency Entropia branded the majority of chatbots “deeply frustrating” after analysing their reliability, experience and personality.

It singled out AirAsia’s Virtual Allstar as an exception which delivered a “seamless experience to its customers in a quick and efficient way”.

It also successfully amplified the airline’s “strong brand voice”.

Overall, however, the picture was a technology that has potential but which currently disappoints.

Entropia founder and senior partner Prashant Kumar said: “A vast majority of bot interactions in Malaysia tend to be deeply frustrating. This brings the fear of the very technology getting discredited.

“At Entropia we believe doing it right is more important than doing it. This whitepaper is an effort towards that.”

Entropia explored 30 chatbots, with mixed results.

While AirAsia’s Virtual Allstar was the standout performer, a chatbot called Endurance – designed primarily to be a virtual companion for the elderly – was the “least desirable”.

If failed on all three criteria, particularly for reliability and experience.

“This is not ideal, particularly for a chatbot designed to interact with elderly users,” the paper stated. “It does not house frequently asked questions on its database. Users are instead frequently redirected to an external webpage in response to most queries – an indication that the chatbot does not have a coherent information database integrated into its systems.”

Although most chatbots fulfilled basic functions, “they are not excelling at what they do”.

“Being somewhat satisfied no longer cuts it in this day and age,” the report said.

AirAsia, meanwhile, enabled customers to check flight details, book flights and view information “quickly and efficiently” with the airline’s “strong brand voice successfully translated into their chatbot Personality”.

AirAsia’s virtual technology, AVA, was singled out as the standout performer in Malaysia

“For AVA, AirAsia injected their signature stewardess hospitality – fun, bold, and helpful,” it said. “AVA comes to life as a digital assistant with a pleasant personality

“If there is anything more we can ask for, it is for AVA to talk less like a digital assistant and more like a human being. With more character and personal flair, users can be driven to chat with AVA beyond asking questions about flights.”

Despite the mixed findings, Entropia partner Sourabh Agrawal said the technology was still in its early days in Malaysia and has significant potential.

“Although chatbot technology is still relatively new to Malaysia, progressive companies, always eager to innovate and automate, have adopted these online conversation agents as an efficient alternative to improve their customer communications,” he said.

“And due to the ever-increasing capabilities of Artificial Intelligence, there is no limit to what chatbots can do today. In fact, there is huge potential for future-focused brands to carefully design and develop their online conversation agents to match different market segments.”

As the ultimate goal for a chatbot is to make communication faster and more effective, reliability is key, the agency added.

“Brands should consider chatbots an ongoing investment. A chatbot is only as smart as the information it has access to, yet we found that many chatbots are not even integrated into the brand’s information database.

“Chatbots should be regularly updated to include new customer information; and improvements should be made to the way it handles natural language queries.”


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