Conversational agents continue to permeate our lives in different forms, such as virtual assistants on mobile devices or chatbots on websites and social media. The interaction with users through natural language offers various aspects for researchers to study as well as application domains for practitioners to explore. In particular their design represents an interesting phenomenon to investigate as humans show social responses to these agents and successful design remains a challenge in practice. Compared to digital human-to-human communication, text-based conversational agents can provide complementary, preset answer options with which users can conveniently and quickly respond in the interaction. However, their use might also decrease the perceived humanness and social presence of the agent as the user does not respond naturally by thinking of and formulating a reply. In this study, we conducted an experiment with N=80 participants in a customer service context to explore the impact of such elements on agent anthropomorphism and user satisfaction. The results show that their use reduces perceived humanness and social presence yet does not significantly increase service satisfaction. On the contrary, our findings indicate that preset answer options might even be detrimental to service satisfaction as they diminish the natural feel of human-CA interaction.
Diederich, Stephan; Brendel, Alfred Benedikt; Lichtenberg, Sascha; and Kolbe, Lutz, (2019). "DESIGN FOR FAST REQUEST FULFILLMENT OR NATURAL INTERACTION? INSIGHTS FROM AN EXPERIMENT WITH A CONVERSATIONAL AGENT". In Proceedings of the 27th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Stockholm & Uppsala, Sweden, June 8-14, 2019. ISBN 978-1-7336325-0-8 Research Papers.