There was a time when customers craved the human connection when looking for answers to questions or when trying to resolve issues they had encountered after making a purchase. While that is still true, to some extent, it is becoming more and more apparent that today’s customer would actually prefer businesses put control of customer service back into their hands. They are, after all, the customer and they know what they want!
They may not have all the answers, but technology can put those answers at their fingertips and it is now forecast that at least 85% of all customer service interactions will occur without human interactions by 2020. Let that sink in for just a moment. That’s only months away from this point in time. So how is that possible and how is automation changing the landscape of customer service for the better?
1. Long Term ROI
First, let’s look at this from a purely business perspective. Initially, there will be a significant outlay of capital setting up the technology for automated customer service platforms, but after that there will be minimal upkeep over time. For example, self-service kiosks in major chains have been in operation for years which has significantly reduced the amount of people necessary to work the customer service desk. Within just a year or two, the cost of technology is offset by the reduction in payroll and over time the company will realise a much higher annual profit because of that initial expense.
2. Streamlined Answers
Have you ever had the pleasure of being assisted by a customer service kiosk? These offer streamlined solutions for brick-and-mortar establishments because they can streamline the process. Customers simply walk up to a kiosk, type their question or choose from a list of customer support options and within moments they can get the answers they are looking for quickly. These kiosks can offer everything from placing customers in line for order pickup to directing them to areas of a store where merchandise can be found.
3. Customers Are in Control
If you think you will be doing your customers a disservice by putting their needs and complaints into the ‘hands’ of a machine, you need to rethink the issue. You would think that living in a hi-tech world would make people prefer a bit of human contact but statistics indicate the exact opposite. Most people prefer to find answers online or via a chat bot. They want to be in control and certainly don’t need to wait in a queue for the next available customer care rep. An automated bot can answer almost any question a customer might pose and much quicker as well. If those answers aren’t sufficient or they can’t find the question they need answering, they can get in a queue to speak with a rep.
With automated customer care bots and kiosks, the customer remains in control. You will never need to replace your entire customer service department with technology because there will still be people who prefer people. However, for those of us who simply want answers fast and easy, this may be the year of transition. It will be interesting to watch.