NEW DATA – Canadians on Covid-era customer service: “Let me talk to a real person.”


As Canada marked a full year of Covid restrictions—and many Canadians are facing a third phase of lockdowns—artificial intelligence and digital assistants are more prevalent than ever in handling customer service requests. At the onset of the pandemic, business consultants hailed the new era of increased efficiency and reduced costs. However, a new poll of Canadians on pandemic-related changes to customer service asks: what do Canadians think of these new, virtual solutions for responding to their customer service needs? In short, we do not like the new normal.


  • 74% say AI-based customer service (“chatbots”) have provided a worse customer experience compared with a live representative.

  • 63% say they trust a live person more than AI, but only 6% say they trust a chatbot more.

  • By a margin of 63% to 26%, Canadians also believe companies that switched to chatbots during the pandemic should return to live representatives after the pandemic subsides.

  • 6 in 10 (60%) say they will view a company’s reputation more negatively if that company does not return to live agents in chatbot roles, while fewer than 1 in 10 (9%) see a positive impact on reputation.

“Although there are some cost savings for companies that transition to AI-based customer service, even our online participant group reported high levels of dissatisfaction with how their customer experience has evolved during the pandemic,” said Matthew Segal, Director of Communications, at StrategyCorp, Inc., which conducted the new research. “We’ve been told that the future is digital, but we’re not there yet. Canadians still overwhelmingly care about getting real customer service help, in real time, from a real person.”

Canadians were also leery of companies that might make Covid changes permanent. “AI and chatbots might improve business efficiency in the short term, but our data shows it’s likely to damage a brand’s reputation in the long run. And that will cost a company its customers,” Segal added. View the full report.