Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the entire business landscape. Gartner predicts that by 2020 it will become a positive motivator for work, creating half a million new jobs.
Companies that implement AI solutions recognize operational efficiencies throughout the organization, including within their customer service departments. According to a recent report, 61% of companies implemented artificial intelligence solutions in 2017, compared to 38% in 2016. And employees see this as a positive change.
But, and the customers? Do companies know how new technologies are affecting the experience of their customers? While innovation is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage, the focus has now focused too much on emerging technologies to offer exceptional experiences to customers. Companies should not stop investing in new technologies, but should also recognize that customer loyalty depends on human nature.
The report “AI vs. The Human Touch: What Contact Centers Need to Know”, prepared by Calabrio, includes responses from more than 3,000 consumers on the journey of the customer experience and what motivates them. The findings are clear: human nature is the way customers’ think, feel and act, and drives their digital behavior. To win their loyalty, customers must feel heard and have an emotional bond with the brand, and that can only be created through the human connection. On the other hand, 41% of contact center agents believe that new technology implementations mean they will have fewer administrative and routine tasks.
Customers want to be heard, and want to create an emotional connection with brands. By putting a human being on the other side of the telephone line, companies can satisfy the wishes, needs and emotions of customers:
- 50% say that loyalty is earned when companies listen to and act on a complaint.
- 48% are more loyal when they can contact a company quickly and easily.
- 43% would complain if the experience were not satisfactory as promised.
- 31% have reason to complain if they feel they are not listening.
- 35% would be critical of a company if it were too difficult to talk to a human.
In order for customers to quickly get the help they need, many companies turn to chatbots or other self-service options. Companies must address the individual preferences of the client, according to what customers need at that moment, which requires that they be available in all communication channels. This provides more options for the client and opens new opportunities for companies to analyze human behavior and use that information to improve the overall experience. However, the telephone is still the preferred channel for many users, since talking to a human being is efficient and creates a good relationship.
According to the report, 79% of customers believe that interacting with a human being in front of a chatbot or other digital self-service channel is a sign of good customer service. Clients are emotionally motivated when they have the option of speaking with call center agents, because when customers call, they are likely to deliberately avoid self-service channels because they want help from a person. And that’s when well-trained empathic agents make a big difference. While 58% of customers believe that calling is the way to get the best and most efficient service, there are also users who prefer different methods: 23% email, 10% web site and 7% social networks.
With voice and text analysis, companies can unlock a large source of information on the sentiment, wishes and needs of customers. Conversations are captured, categorized and then analyzed so that companies can use ideas to make better decisions, such as the acceptance of marketing, sales or product strategies.
Innovation Must Focus On The Customer
As AI and other technologies become more common, customers are aware of the change. While customers know this new technology, companies must demonstrate that it is efficient so that it does not become a source of frustration.
76% of users think that technology helps create a good experience for the customer and 48% only think that innovation is important if it improves customer service.
The Importance Of Agents In Listening To The Customer
To be successful in a digital world, technology must allow agents to be available to listen and be efficient when customers need them most. Being in the forefront of the customer experience, agents have the power to listen and empathize.
Companies must engage customers in the right way, at the right time and in the right channel to keep up with the ever-changing demands of savvy consumers of today’s digital technology.
There is no way to avoid it: technology will continue to penetrate the business landscape and will bring incredible benefits to organizations around the world. As companies look for ways to innovate, they cannot lose sight of the fact that, in order to build the emotional connection that creates loyalty, they must listen to their customers.