Drop the Bot

In the battle between the humans and the bots, where do you stand? 

Who wins? 

It’s a big question that we thought we had the answer to. Bots are the result of human innovation that free us from the drudgery of repetitive tasks. Bots are more accurate. They are more precise and make fewer mistakes, they save you money, and they work faster. And more importantly, bots free us to do better work with other things that bots can’t make, like a wink. Or look at you in the eye.
But let's have a straight talk about customer service, robots, and automation. Would you want a robot asking you to update your account immediately, even if you’re in the hospital or just lost someone you love? That’s inconsiderate. Would you want to find out that you just lost your account because your card bounced for some unknown reason? 

We’re talking about customer satisfaction. It’s not only about sales and marketing. Your customer service is how you measure your reputation and impact. 

If you’re pro robots, this is not the study that you’re looking for. If you somehow ended up here to see how we’re supporting your decision to use automation in your customer service, I’m sorry to tell you that we’re not going to put humans toe to toe with robots and see where one might be right over the other. We’re not going to put the pros and cons on the table where we can measure them against each other. In the year 2021, we’re all past that. 

And at Gravy, we think that businesses should drop the bots. 

Here’s why. In customer service, humans win every time, even on little studies such as ours. After performing triage on millions of failed payments, we had learned what our CEO Casey Graham bet his life on when he started Gravy -that humans will outperform bots every time.

Bots or Humans?

While industries continue to use robots for customer service, customer satisfaction is plummeting at an all-time low. The idea that you’re going to run your customers through a robot mill so you can push as many people as possible through the same experience while keeping your operating costs as low as possible is not defensible in the long run. 

In a recent study we conducted across the United States, the majority said they would rather speak to a human agent. Our data shows that an overwhelming 93.9% of the respondents prefer to talk to a human over bots. Only an underwhelming 6.91% preferred talking to robots. And that’s a niche that can’t define the success of your business.  

The reason lies in the psychology of calling in the first place. When people call, they have a concern to solve. When people call, they prefer talking to someone who can help. There is nothing like speaking to someone who is capable of deciding on an issue and not just an AI programmed to respond to a particular situation.

I Can't Get No... Satisfaction.

We asked when they were more satisfied when calling customer support. Regardless of their call outcome, 92.20% of the customers felt more satisfied with speaking to a human than a bot. Being served by someone who seems to want to resolve your issue genuinely is more gratifying than being served as a mere number to be done away with. 

Satisfying your clients is a metric that you can’t just do away with. While dealing with customers can be expensive, resource-draining, and time-consuming, these numbers don’t lie. Your company tried their damnedest to get those clients, now do right by them by not relying on soulless and automated emails to support their concerns. 

Do You Belong to These Industries?

Somewhere along the way, these industries forgot where they are getting their business. It might be that they became so big that consumers became numbers to be shifted around in reports and company briefings.  

According to the research, the technology industry by far provides the worst customer service. If you ever felt like your current company does not care about solving your phone minutes nor your internet speed, you are not alone. About 24% of our respondents think that it provides the worst customer support across the board. Healthcare comes as close second with 18.93% while Utilities and media are not far ahead (or below) with 10.13% and 8.60% respectively. Let’s face it. A lot of industries just don’t get it: customer service is king. Or they do when they’re wooing the client but not when it comes to support.  There is simply too much competition out there to ignore this fact, and companies that don’t get on the ball will suffer in the end.

The Hall Of Shame

The Hall of Shame is highlighted by some major names and a few common suspects. Comcast is leading (not surprising) at 9.67%. Spending more than three hours on the phone and being transferred from one department to another until you can speak with someone who could help is not an uncommon story. Walmart follows Comcast at 6.81% (surprising). It used to be easier to get their attention, but it has recently become a nightmare to ask for help with your purchase. A host of other technology companies vie for the rest of the list, except for Bank of America, garnering a whopping 1.74%. It is easy to get stuck in one of their pre-recorded message phone loops where you can never get to a real person.

Are Accents A Problem?

Okay, Siri doesn’t understand your subtle American accent. But it understands your father’s heavy Southern drawl. You’re not alone in your frustration. In the year 2021, robot customer service systems are a long way to understanding the primary American accent. According to the study, 41.40% of the respondents feel like, on top of their concerns, their accents caused misunderstanding and prevented the robot from solving their problems. 

Do Robots Dream of Electronic Accents?

The United States, being a melting pot of cultures, has probably one of the most diverse accents in the world. And what defines an “American accent” changes depending on where you are. So programming the robot to understand the general American accent is bound to encounter some problems. According to the state of respondents, people from Indiana (83.1%), Alabama (76.5%), Mississippi (71.4%), and Louisiana (66.7%) are the most difficult to understand. This would be obvious and apparent as Southern accents are generally considered hard to understand even by other Americans. But surprisingly, a varied number of states commonly known to have neutral accents are also struggling with being understood by the robot.


In the battle between the humans and the bots, where do you stand? Who wins?
For Gravy, we have a motive for telling you these things. We win if you sign up for our payment recovery service. We have a Swat Team of Failed Payment experts who will take over your automated sequences faster than you can say Failed Payments. 

But if you are considering how you and your clients win, the first step is in looking at how your automated processes are slowly eating up your company. The bleeding is always worse than you think. And losing your clients due to a misunderstanding after working so hard to get them doesn’t make sense. 

Why let any failed payments slip thru the cracks because of a bot that’s been proven to eat out of your customer satisfaction?

It’s time to drop the bot and delight in the real thing.


All participants were screened using a two-pronged approach: (1) description of selection criteria with a requirement for self-acknowledgement and acceptance, and (2) directly asking each participant to confirm that they made a call to customer support or service during 2020. A total of 1,348 attempts were made to take the online study, with 252 eliminated for: (1) Not being located in the USA, (2) not making a call to customer service or support in 2020, (3) not completing the survey, or (4) a mixture of these. Additionally, 13 response sets were eliminated for having duplicate IP addresses, for a total of 265 eliminations, yielding a final completion rate of 80.34%, and a final n = 1,083. This study employed an online survey using a convenience sampling methodology via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, with a subsequent posteriori exploratory, correlational data analysis methodology employed after completion of data scrubbing via Microsoft Excel and data visualization via Tableau.

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