Balancing Automation with Human Touch for Superior Customer Experience

5 min read

Not even the best AI can figure out how to appease an unhappy customer!

Career Trends: May 24, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Businesses that rely too heavily on tech and over-automate processes put themselves at risk. What consumers value most is the human touch.

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One of the biggest challenges related to digital business is finding the balance point between automation and the human touch. Various digital tools — business intelligence, machine learning (ML), and customer relationship management (CRM) systems — can help scale marketing initiatives, but they also can lead to impersonal and misdirected communications and poor service.

However, it’s far from an abstract problem. Businesses that rely too heavily on technology and over-automate processes put themselves at risk. The thing that consumers value most — feeling respected and appreciated — all but disappears.

Not surprisingly, the total of bad experiences — everything from irrelevant emails to the inability to reach a human when necessary — drives customers away.

How can an organisation maintain the human touch with automation?

While it’s tempting to view these two things as opposing forces, in reality the concepts are complementary. With the right business framework, processes, technologies, and data, it’s possible to transform automation technology into an ally.

Stepping Off the Automation Treadmill

  • Consulting firm PwC found that about 80 percent of U.S. consumers desire speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service.
  • Technology alone cannot address all these things.
  • It’s easy to focus on automation as a way to speed processes and control costs as it is a valuable tool for achieving advantages.
  • PwC notes that consumers want a fast and frictionless experience, they typically don’t notice technology until it doesn’t work right.
  • In a best-case scenario, an organisation combines technology, processes, and the human touch to create a superior experience.

Humanising Business

What exactly does all of this mean in the real world? Five factors are crucial for balancing automation and human touch. 

Factor No. 1: Consumers crave personalisation. 

  • Personal and contextually relevant messaging is vital for connecting to customers.
  • Unfortunately, many organisations blast emails and other messages without regard to whether the messages make any real difference.
  • They adopt a “more is better” mode of thinking, and people will remember the brand with enough exposure.
  • Frequently, the opposite is true, you have to hit people with messaging that really matters.
  • When companies use data and various approaches effectively, interactions feel natural, and they are appreciated.

Factor No. 2: Every experience must be frictionless. 

  • Channels are a crucial element of business, but they are not discrete entities. An organisation must weave them together to create a seamless fabric.
  • It makes it possible for marketing, sales, and customer support to function in a highly orchestrated way.
  • With a focus on data, an organisation can pinpoint where a customer resides at any point in the product life cycle and deliver appropriate web pages, app messaging, emails, and more. 

Factor No. 3: Shoppers want technology experiences to feel humanlike. 

  • The desire to shop online or use a chatbot for support doesn’t mean that consumers want a sterile experience.
  • The key to effective automation is to harness machines for what they do best —process data, deliver information about a product, or answer basic questions.
  • Make a seamless handoff to a human, if and when it’s necessary.
  • It’s vital to think through the customer journey and put the right processes and workflows in place.

Factor No. 4: People sometimes want or need a real human. 

  • Too often, businesses create websites and smartphone apps that make it difficult — and sometimes impossible — to connect with humans.
  • While human representatives increase costs, they typically boost brand loyalty and fix problems machines can’t.
  • They can deliver empathy and understanding leading to repeat customers and long-term revenues.
  • In addition, when employees are empowered to make decisions, they can transform a problem into a win.
  • They can offer a customer a coupon, apply a partial or complete refund, offer loyalty points, or send someone a replacement.
  • Not even the best AI can figure out how to appease an unhappy customer. 

Factor No. 5: All technology must add value. 

  • Cool technology — say, virtual reality or augmented reality — might appeal to a subset of a customer base.
  • PwC found that only 3 percent of U.S. customers desire fully automated experiences, and 64 percent think that businesses have lost touch with the human element.
  • However, people almost always value simplicity, convenience, and easy resolution over bells and whistles.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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