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EMAC 2023 Annual

To Err is Human: Understanding customers' ambivalence towards chatbots

Published: May 24, 2023


Xiaoxia Cao, Royal Holloway, University of London; Nisreen Ameen, LONDON UNIVERSITY / ROYAL HOLLOWAY; Chris Hackley, Royal Holloway, University of London


While positive experiences of interactions with chatbots have been reported, a high number of negative chatbot interactions and experience are also reported. This paper explores this apparent customer ambivalence toward chatbots through a qualitative approach using six focus groups with 25 participants in total. The study focuses mainly on chatbots provided by cosmetic retailers in China on online shopping platforms. This study finds that consumers’ ambivalence towards chatbots emerges in different shopping stages, and refers to chatbots’ problem-solving ability, chatbots’ anthropomorphism and emotional recognition, and privacy and security issues of chatbot use. This study provides insights into consumers’ ambivalence towards chatbots and how retailers can improve chatbot user experience. The findings also promote the development of the concepts of interaction between consumers and chatbots, and provide guidance for further research on human-robot interaction.