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Be Positively Disruptive by Uniting Humans With Automation

Blog Post By Iain Banks, VP Client Partner EMEA

To survive in today's increasingly competitive customer landscape, businesses have seemingly flocked in droves toward the latest tech trends such as in AI (artificial intelligence) and chatbots. So much so that it seems companies are enforcing technology solutions at every opportunity. Amid all the talk of technical advancement, we seem to forget about the human factor. That specialised personal touch that only people can deliver to consumers no matter the channel of engagement.

A recent Verint research paper found that 82 percent of consumers still prefer human interaction over channels such as live chat and web self-service when the issue is complicated. It adds that despite company's tremendous push towards tech integration, with big strides particularly towards mobile and live chat, customers still want to speak to associates in person or over phone. What we need to see in the future is a union between technology and humanity, a balance between the two that creates seamless integrations across channels. Having a human approach strengthened by technology wins customers and creates loyalty. Businesses need to bring personalisation to the forefront of customer experience.

However, it still goes without saying that as technology becomes a more integral part of everyday life. People will continue to adopt it and use it more. According to global research by Accenture, 88 percent of consumers will utilise digital channels during a portion of their shopping experience. Yet, only 36 percent of them think digital channels are better than human channels. Machines are not ready to take complete control of the customer experience, and nor should they.

You can't just rely on technology anymore, you should look beyond this and know what each consumer wants. Ultimately, it's that foundation that allows you to engage, integrate, and learn from every interaction.

For contact centres, the biggest and strongest asset to our industry is people. Proactive interactions between an associate and customer produce genuine emotion for your brand. While technology can help fill in the blanks and tackle basic issues, you need a strong associate base to act as the brand's core and keep the knowledgebase updated.

This comes alive in omnichannel initiatives, engaging customers in the channels they want to be engaged in. Do it in a more human way, be personalised in the channels they suspect you to be in. Going back to the Verint findings, in an emergency 60 percent of customers wanted help from an associate on the phone, compared to only 4 percent that stated they would want support via live chat. Surprisingly, live chat ranked as the third most preferred support channel despite its low percentage.

How can companies enable such a business? Our approach is to create a "customer engagement as a service" platform we call Humanify to serve bridge between technology and humanity. It allows technology to tackle the high volume/low value transactions in the customer experience. Humans then engage in the low volume/high value interactions that nurtures customer needs. It helps create a seamless customer experience, whether it is a straightforward machine or a comforting voice, across channels.

Focus on that balance of digital and humanity, no matter how popular certain technological trends get. Remember, new gadgets can be easily installed but you can't set up a great workforce of people overnight.

As the late Steve Jobs once said, "It's not a faith in technology. It's faith in people."

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