What will be key for the C-suite moving forward, and a way to address and resolve the debate around automation and added technological processes, is to plan its CX strategy with personalisation at its core. Personalisation, is one of, if not the single most important factor behind a customer relationship strategy, and is the art of treating every customer as an individual, at marginal cost. That last bit is the kicker – marginal cost. Businesses can decide whether that marginal cost is going to be low (for more commoditised products and services perhaps) or high (luxury), but it’s there for all businesses.
Every organisation pursuing this goal needs to work out whether they’re going to balance that equation by eschewing automation altogether, or else seeing how smart software, artificial intelligence and automated processes can play a part and improve service. If businesses can strike that balance and optimise personalised CX through automation, then you should have plenty of resources left over to hire great people to add more personal and relationship building touches to the customer journey, driving brand loyalty, which is crucial in a world post-COVID.
This is not about automation winning out against human agents, far from it. However, there are countless ways in which it is shown to optimise CX rather than detract from it; where the benefits point to a value-based investment in customers rather than a cynical cost-cutting measure.
Determining a path forward must come via evidence. For bots and automation to be proven to deliver, they must have the opportunity. Some might opt for polling customers on their opinions about automation before introducing it, but this rarely generates tangible results. Far better is to pilot and test new systems with limited customer groups for limited periods.
The most innovative new concepts in bots and automation – natural language understanding, entity extraction, sentiment analysis, robotic process automation – are not off-the-shelf products, so testing and piloting is essential anyway. This is not because the technology is unproven, but because unique customer circumstances dictate. Also, crucially, so that organisations have the necessary latitude to put human agents and automation into the balance that’s right for them. The result is heavily testing-led projects that arrive quickly at an optimised, tailored solution. This allows risk-averse brands to
develop differentiators in customer experience and gradually introduce and tweak innovations for maximum impact.
The debate about humans versus automation in customer service has been framed by fierce advocates at either end of the spectrum. The middle-way solution has got to be a harmonious convergence of both, bespoke to each organisation’s requirement and customer profile. Customer experience is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, so if outsourcing is your chosen route, finding a trusted and agile outsourcing partner is so important.
It’s OK to be wary of technological progress but it’s worth doing your testing first before falling into a prejudice one way or the other. Are bots and automation the elixir to all our customer service woes? No, but that hasn’t stopped businesses investing thus far.