Using human beings to provide customer service may be on its way out. A survey of American consumers found a growing acceptance of automated customer service interaction. Forty-four percent of respondents taking part in Aspect Software’s 2016 Aspect Consumer Experience Index said that if a company could get it right they would prefer to use a chatbot or an automated assistant for customer service interaction, up four points from the 2015 survey. Half of respondents said that they would rather conduct all brand interaction via text/messaging, with 39 percent saying the digital-first methods are more effective than talking to another person.

“The accuracy and interaction quality of intelligent assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo are driving consumer interest for similar experiences with the brands they do business with,” says Joe Gagnon, Aspect’s chief customer strategy officer. “This is no longer just a way for companies to reduce costs by handing simple and repetitive queries over to automated assistants. This is an opportunity for companies to satisfy a growing customer demand. But even though a large number of consumers now prefer using chatbots, they aren’t going to tolerate a substandard experience. The important thing is that companies that deploy automated interaction must provide an experience that is connected to the rest of the customer experience ecosystem.”

The survey also cautioned that if used in isolation, automation risked alienating customers. It reports that 88 percent of consumers expect the context of their interaction on a chatbot to follow them as they transition to a live person. However, a chatbot experience, which Aspect broadly defined as a self-service experience, can also create good will with customers. The study found that 61 percent said chatbots will allow simple to moderate requests to be handled faster, and that two-thirds of consumers feel good about themselves and the company when they are able to answer a question or solve a problem by themselves without the help of a customer service agent.

For more on the Aspect Consumer Experience Index findings, click here.