Humans versus technology. High quality conversations or faster response times? This is the dilemma that the vast majority of companies find themselves faced with in 2019. It is true to say that humans are incredibly effective and much more efficient when performing tasks that require critical thinking and empathy. Likewise, computers boast incredible power with regard to automation, calculations and information retrieval. But how can companies find the balance of maintaining the personal touch while taking advantage of advances in technology?
What Customer Experience do Consumers Demand?
Let’s take a look at various trends that came to surface over the past year across the customer service industry. The 2018 CXi Customer Service Experience Report opened with ‘It’s not negotiable: tech-era CX still needs the human touch’. This quote is true, and will always be true. In an attempt to reduce customer service costs, we have seen a number of companies introduce deflection techniques such as chat-bots and auto-responders. However, while these approaches minimise an agent’s workload, they can come at the cost of personalisation and they often result in mis-handled queries and frustrated customers. Deflection and auto-response tactics can be a great way to minimise response-time and reduce the workload for agents, but at what cost?
The customer service function serves as the link between the company and their customers at crucial stages throughout the sales process, whether it be prior to purchase, during purchase, or after-sale. How well the customer service function operates directly impacts on the success of the company and the future of the product. Progressive companies put high-quality customer service at the heart of their customer acquisition and retention strategies.
Chat bots don’t seem to be living up to the hype as early adopters realise that a little human interaction is needed to deliver the personal touch everyone craves. An empathetic comment to a worried customer like “I know how stressful moving house is so we’ll be sure to get your order to you on time” my be a small addition to a response to a customer query but it really makes a difference in the customer’s experience with your product or platform.
The customer experience trends that were highlighted in 2018 also focus around the importance of personal touch, the balance between technology and people and how customer experience will become the factor that will drive business growth and cost savings.
From looking at the 2019 CXi report we can see that there has been a decline in customer experience scores, not only in Ireland, but worldwide. The introduction to the report states that in order for companies to move away from CX mediocrity, they will have to change the CX function from a “project” to a “core business strategy”. Investment and resources will appear to be heavy in the beginning, but in the medium-long term it will benefit the overall strategy of the business. This presents a huge challenge to customer focussed organisations; how can customer experience be a core business strategy if the cost of high quality customer care is prohibitive?
The Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence
The Six Pillars of CX Excellence that was developed by KPMG Nunwood and can be seen in the 2018 report may seem like a juggling act – personalisation, expectations, empathy, integrity, time & effort and resolution. How can you maintain a high level of these Six Pillars without putting your company under pressure?
If you employ a chat-bot to reply to a message then, aside from a potentially poor user experience, you are losing out on personalisation, empathy and integrity. Traditional approaches to delivering customer service simply cannot scale with increasing consumer expectations. It is no longer cost-effective to throw customer service agents at the problem while hoping to deflect some contact via your website. However, there is a shining light here in the form of AI and automation. An agent-assisted technology that aids rather than takes over complete control can solve all the problems that the Six Pillars were set up to tackle.
Technology to the Rescue! But Which Technology?
Recently Forrester outlined in their report The Three Customer Service Megatrends In 2019 some of the advantages of harnessing the technology of Artificial Intelligence in order to reduce the pressure on customer service agents. Doing this would allow them to provide quality conversations for customers while also dealing with huge volumes of interactions. AI can be used to perform repetitive tasks that customer agents would otherwise be dedicating precious time to complete. Activities such as looking up customer information and previous interactions, searching through data sources and correcting responses are all things that AI / automation can help with, allowing agents to focus on increasing customer satisfaction. Humans are good at being humans. Computers are good at being computers. Right?
The 2019 CXi report reiterated the idea that if you empower the staff in your company to deliver great customer experience, you will be in a far better position to retain and attract customers. Providing great customer care isn’t easy, but with the right set of people and the right use of technology, any organisation can stand out from the competition.
Why not use a system that allows the agents to complete tasks that will maximise the personal touch and allow the machines to take over the monotonous work?
So do you think that a lack of personalisation is driving down customer service scores? Are high-costs preventing you from delivering the quality of customer care that your customers deserve? If you’d like to hear more about EdgeTier’s solution to this problem using our agent-assist Arthur-ficial Intelligence platform you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.