We live in a world where digital technology is second nature. Options include remote car starters from your phone, doorbell cameras to alert you of your neighbourhood moves, and even virtual doctor visits. These options are easy, quick, and come with the click of a button. But when there is a question or concern, what do we do as consumers? The same digital access that grants us 2-day shipping and zero human interaction may lack the answers a customer needs when a problem arises. So the question at hand is, when it comes to customer service, is human interaction really best?
When comparing chatbots to a human customer service agent, the levels of attentiveness will differ. Often times, customer questions can easily be answered in the FAQs section of a website. More often than not however, those answers aren’t exactly easy to find. Chatbots can ask a series of questions through programming, that allow them to direct the customer into the right direction with accompanying links. But what happens when the bots can’t answer your questions? Knowing when to use both types of customer management services is imperative to keeping your customers happy and satisfied.
As brands continue to use chatbots, the trend to use them should be applied for the following situations:
Unknown to many, chatbots can actually be the perfect sales channel. They offer the ability to always be online, regardless of the time, and sell your products for you even when you and your agents aren’t available. With the popularity of e-commerce mega-leaders like Amazon, visiting a brick-and-mortar store is the least desired option for many consumers. The ability to search, inquire and purchase via the internet, is the driving force behind many purchases we see today.
Chatbots can help you answer support questions when your agents are offline or overloaded. You have the ability to set hours for the chatbots, which can allow you to engage them or turn them off depending on the load of customer service agents. With a chatbot, you can be rest assured that every customer who is contacting you will receive an immediate response whether your team is in or out of the office.
Chatbots are advanced, sophisticated tools that allow many businesses to flow. But the ability to interact with a human service agent is still desired by many, not just the older generations. That’s why you can (and should) rely on agents for the following instances:
Most chatbots operate based on a limited database and aren’t able to improvise in unclear situations. When someone is trying to solve a complex technical issue, your bot might simply keep responding with the same answer without actually providing any meaningful help or encourage the user to contact a customer service agent. This will certainly frustrate customers. And in most cases, whether bots are programmed to recognise human emotions or not, they are less equipped to handle them.
Customers who want to make transactions online, or who need a detailed answer to a complicated issue, will want the detailed and undivided attention that comes with a human, customer service agent interaction. That’s why it is important to offer this service to deal with customers who are upset or have complex questions or concerns.
Whether you like it or not, some customers will get upset, no matter the industry you’re in or how wonderful your services and products are. A negative customer experience can do an alarming amount of damage to your company’s reputation. Offering great customer service with human interaction can often turn an angry customer into a happy customer. The ability to connect to human emotion and answer questions according to those emotions encompass the imperative role of a customer service agent.
In extreme circumstances, such as a global pandemic - customers will be feeling especially sensitive and must be treated with sensitivity by the businesses they interact with throughout this time. According to a report released in April 2020 by Customer Experience platform Zendesk, customers making requests in certain sectors are waiting 40% longer on average for a reply, and those contacting airlines are waiting 20% longer in April, based on data from the first week of March. Customers now, more than ever are seeking timely and empathetic responses to tough questions about their travel plans and flight bookings so if you’re in one of the sectors affected by a surge in enquiries - scaling up with human agents who have been vetted for soft skills like Empathy and Communication is imperative.
So which one is actually better? The short answer is that both are necessary for a strong approach to customer service. Your chatbot and human service team should work together to create a seamless customer service experience. Offering the best customer service possible should be the number one priority when debating the pros and cons of each.
For successful business in todays’ unpredictable environment, having an agile mindset when it comes to resourcing is critical. Customer Service teams in particular are under pressure to deliver on expectations and being prepared for flux in demand is essential to maintain their levels of service. We spoke to Customer Service leader Tristan Fardy on a Webinar recently all about how he is able to consistently meet high levels of service, and he admitted his number 1 priority is being able to right-size his team during out of cycle increases.
How can we use the power of technology to help us reach human challenges and bridge gaps in empathy that go beyond the logistical challenges we’ve mastered so far? The discussion at this year's conference centred around what Weploy and other innovators like us have done to address challenges in relating to others’ needs and acknowledged some of the ‘red flags’ or limitations of technology in this space and how we can overcome them.
The possibilities for tech with purpose are endless. It can enable greater innovation, connection, efficiency in service delivery and operations, de-bias decision-making, provide access to different markets and communities.
In the case of job matching for example, outsourcing decision-making to tech can enable individuals to access opportunities that they may never have been able to before. Students who are considered not experienced enough for certain roles, qualified people from ethnic minorities who may be subject to unconscious bias, or experienced older workers who are consistently told they’re not a ‘cultural fit’ for younger teams. HR tech helps to provide a democratic platform for job seekers to be considered with equal opportunity.
Manisha Amin, CEO of The Centre for Inclusive Design pointed out that the commonly held beliefs about AI and automation are a little reductionist. Automation is certainly removing some of the more administrative or repetitive tasks from our jobs, to make room for more strategic or ‘higher level’ thinking. But with that comes the fear that automation is also removing our ‘downtime’ and causing pressure for us to be constantly connected and engaged. In reality, the impact of automation is a lot more complex.
There is an interesting dichotomy between connecting and alienating communities when it comes to tech. Deep, rich and meaningful connections are made possible now more than ever before thanks to technological advancement. Everyday, WhatsApp chats with friends all over the world for example, or video calls with relatives that help to maintain meaningful relationships.
It can be used to provide safety, comfort and support for people who are otherwise alienated or estranged with access to Facebook communities, meet-ups and groups for like-minded people. But on the flipside, heightened connectivity can become dangerous if left unregulated.
Whilst having an increased visibility into larger social issues and global causes that may not have been considered previously can only be a good thing, there are plenty of red flags to watch out for too. Aivee Robinson, the founder of Catalyser warned of the danger of ‘Social Echo Chambers’. The sheer volumes of erroneous content for public consumption can ensnare susceptible users into ‘digital ‘bubbles’ of interest that support their internalised beliefs systems, whether accurate or not. This can lead to potentially catastrophic collective misremembering, The Mandela Effect is one such example. Hyper-connectivity for some people is not always desirable - for example HR Tech provides a layer of protection between the potentially damaging relationship between Employer/Employee. For the Weployees on our platform, our technology shields them from having to go for interview after interview. So, for them ‘reduced connectivity’ (i.e. fewer interviews) is a benefit.
Whilst it is certainly true that ‘Tech can Make us Better Humans’ it is clear that better regulation and clearer strategies must be laid down in order to help us ensure we are harnessing the power of tech in a safe, inclusive and democratic way. Amin referenced the story of OXO, the American utensil manufacturer that was founded by Sam Farber when he saw his wife Betsey having trouble holding her vegetable peeler due to arthritis. The couple saw an opportunity to create more thoughtfully designed utensils that would benefit everyone, with or without arthritis - and the success of OXO’s iconic Good Grips Handles is testament to the power of inclusive design. The design, creation and ideation of new technologies should be no different.
Customer Contact departments today are undergoing an immense shift in their customer operations. For years, contact centres have worked in silo from the wider business operations, focused solely on responding to customer enquiries as quickly and efficiently as possible. But today we’re seeing contact centres evolve and work smarter with a range of departments to become an ultimate new-gen CX Hub.