The Fear, Uncertainty, And Doubt Over Automation And Bots
I was speaking at a conference hosted by Teleperformance in Russia recently. It was my first visit to Moscow and I was impressed to see how so many brands in Russia have started to position the customer experience as a key strategic priority. But, as I was talking to other delegates, I noticed one big mistake in Russia that I keep seeing play out in other markets too.
Too many companies are jumping on the automation bandwagon without really thinking about what it means for their business. Automation is exciting and the analyst community keeps publishing research papers describing how it will change the customer experience, but I think that many executives need to stop and really consider what they want to achieve from automation and what their service will look like once they automate.
The typical expectation is that automation can deflect customers away from the contact centre. If a chatbot can handle all the simple customer questions then that leaves your human agents with more time to focus on the complex problems and it just generally reduces the volume of calls that need to be handled – that all sounds great. Often there is a belief that you know what all the simple problems are and they will be easy to automate, or a belief that because most of your customers are millennials then they will love an automated system.
But how can you plan an automation strategy without knowing the drivers for all those calls in detail – why are customers calling and are those problems easy to automate? Also, what is the cost to your business if your human agents never speak to your customers? Here are a few ideas:
- Human interactions; you miss out on the chance for your brand to engage with the customer in a human-led customer experience – this is the best way to create empathy with the brand because a human agent can build on the relationship rather than just focusing on the transaction alone.
- Cross-sell; if your human agent is talking directly to the customer then they may have many opportunities to recommend similar or useful products to thecustomer.
- Upsell; if a human agent is speaking to the customer then they can recommend upgrades or other products that improve on what the customer already uses.
Automated CX can generally only be transactional, it does the job, it is unlikely to ever make a customer say ‘wow’, that was a great experience, so are you missing out by automating? The place to start is to explore why are customers really calling the customer service team in the first place. Do some research, and listen to calls. Take time to find out why they are calling and what takes place when the customers are talking to agents, only then can you define if there is a technically possible automated solution, but what you may lose if those customer conversations are gone.
What executives today need is to take all that Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) and add some advice and insight – kill the FUD and make decisions on important strategies such as automation with the right information. Not just the fear of missing out on some exciting new technologies, but if that is all you have to go on then you might say goodbye to all those great customer experiences.
Photo by A Health Blog licensed under Creative Commons.