Has digital customer service gone a step too far? We haven’t mastered Artificial Intelligence, yet for some reason, it seems like robots and automation are primed to be the next trends for customer service.
Automation can save you money in the short run, compared to traditional methods (like human power), because of its increased efficiency. But not all customers are happy with all automated, all the time.
While automation and digital customer service are tools you should be using (they save resources and allow you to serve customers faster), making sure your customer service strategy still includes a human element is massively important. Your customers want personal interactions that allow them to build a relationship. That’s right… we want to become “friends” with the brands we buy from!
However, we’re starting to see the human element used ineffectively or disappear entirely from both digital and traditional support channels. It’s easy for digital customer service agents to fall back on canned responses to provide quick responses, but it can sometimes result in a poor customer experience. Sure, canned responses are fine in certain scenarios, but they really cannot replace real conversations.
And it’s not just digital that’s suffering from losing the human element. Take the traditional phone support channel, for example. In some cases, the human element has been removed entirely by automated IVR machines (those annoying systems where you press through different numbers to try and speak to a real person). And if you do get through to a real human, you often receive a poor experience: exorbitant hold times, too many transfers, scratchy background noise, and more.
So it comes down to this: Brands looking to create outstanding customer experiences through their digital customer service channels need to re-incorporate the human element. Channels where customers can have a real conversation with a human are more likely to provide outstanding experiences vs. channels that rely purely on automated systems. While it might cost a little more in the short term, providing a small percentage of website visitors with real conversations will pay off in the long run.
By balancing the human element of traditional channels and the efficiency of new digital technologies, you can create those outstanding experiences that make your customers happier, increase conversion and retention, and allow you to deliver a fantastic customer service ROI.
So how can you create these outstanding customer experiences?
By optimizing the right digital support channels, you can make sure every customer in need of help actually gets that help. With proactive live chat for example, you can study your visitor behavior to understand where your customers hit a brick wall in their buying journeys or when they are viewing multiple help pages on one topic.
You can use a similar approach with social media. Track keywords on your social media channels find out when customers aren’t happy. Then, instead of giving them generic service messages from a machine, give them real conversation that show you care.
Finally, since real conversation is the most important element of an outstanding customer experience, you need to make sure you have the right agents managing these digital customer service channels. Invest in hiring, training, and empowering agents that are able to provide efficient customer service, whilst providing friendly and personable customer service.
Delivering customer experience to be proud of has become a challenge for brands big and small. To keep your customers happy, you need to find the right mix of channels and people. We can all benefit from new technologies and automation, but they should never fully remove real conversations. Real conversations deliver the best experiences, show your quality, and develop trust.