We are heading to a humanless customer service future, and that is a bad thing

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For the first time in history, customers are using FAQ pages on a company’s official website for customer service more often than they are speaking to a live employee over the phone, according to the   Customer Life-Cycle survey, conducted by Forrester Research. However, that’s not all; humanless, self-service is no longer just a preference, now it is the norm. According to a 2015 Microsoft survey of over 4.000 consumers, around 90% of examinees said that they now expect brands to have a customer self-service offering.

It’s not surpassing that some customers want to bypass the human representatives, and get straight to the point. You see, there are people in this world who do things impulsively, not pausing to think about the consequences of their behavior. In most cases, they are not good under pressure, and they tend to argue a lot. Now, with all of this in mind, you should know that nearly 70% of buying experiences are based on the client feels they are being treated, according to Forbes. Today, coming across good CS workers is honestly a rare occurrence.

Why are companies turning to automated customer services?

Customer service still means a lot to most companies around the world. In fact, it is so important that 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer service in 2016, according to a recent report from Parature. Of course, you have to realize that some companies with actual people answering the phone don’t always offer good or even serviceable customer services. Some of you may remember the so-called, “Comcast call from hell” from 2014, during which Ryan Block tried to cancel his subscription, and was harangued for more than 15 minutes by an apparently over-achieving service agent. Coincidentally, Comcast was voted the worst company in the United States, the same year.

The age of instant gratification

Remember, we are living in a day and age where an average human being has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Increased desire for 24-7 online convenience, virtual assistance, and artificial intelligence will continue the automation trend in customer service. We do not have new-gen call centers, but more and more customers are looking to social media as a direct line to customer service. Although this is a great platform for being heard, people have increasingly unrealistic expectations that they will receive a response from the company representatives in a matter of minutes. According to Laura Basset, director of marketing for CX, managing customer expectations and service all boils down to having the right strategy in place.

Can you go too far with automation?

While some companies are simply unwilling to pay additional employees, and opt for automation in order to save some money. However, it seems that some businesses overestimated consumer appetite for automated solutions to service problems and just went too far. But it seems that some companies are losing valuable customers, as people demand more human interaction. Actually, according to an Accenture Strategy study, more than 80% of Americans prefer dealing with humans to digital channels to solve customer service problems. The fact is simple – there is a huge room for improvement in the delivery of customer services across all industries and sectors.

Striking the right balance

According to this year’s survey of almost 25.000 customers from 33 different countries, more than 80% of people admit that it is extremely frustrating dealing with an organization that doesn’t make it easy to do business with them. What’s more, over 70% of consumers expect customer service to be easier and accessible. What most companies lack is balance – on one hand, you cannot exclude human interaction totally from the process; on the other, if a company uses nothing but obsolete tech and methods, it’s definitely missing out. For example, innovative CRM platforms like Salesforce, automate the process, and make things more manageable, while keeping the human element part of the customer service.  

Human contact still matters

Let’s get back to the Forrester Research survey, we cited in the opening paragraph for a second. While it revealed a preference for self-service, it also shown that assisted channels still lead when it comes to user experience and customer satisfaction, with pleasure ratings for phone service at 69%, while self-service trails at 58%. As companies continue to make investments in areas like analytics and AI to drive greater personalization across all digital channels, they will unquestionably need to help of industry experts, leaders, and differentiators. They need to make human beings more accessible again and empower employees with desperately need knowledge and creativity.


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