Does a Lack of Human Interaction Cost Businesses Money?
If you believe the headlines, robots have threatened to take our jobs for decades. However, as machines continue to get smarter, this reality now seems closer than ever.
Last year, Amazon announced that it employs 45,000 robots across 20 fulfillment centers; Yobot the robot ensures customers enjoy conversation-free service at Yotel’s pod hotel in New York; and "chatbots" continue to help businesses deliver everything from online banking to checking in for flights.
With the rise of the robots hitting full stride, it’s hardly surprising that two-thirds of Americans believe machines will take most jobs currently completed by human beings in the next 50 years. But in a world seeing rapid advances in artificial intelligence, what price should we put on human interaction? Here are some things businesses should keep in mind as they begin to adopt AI technologies.
Technology has Altered Customer Service Expectations Forever
Today’s always-connected consumers are more adept at seeking out their own answers than ever. Mobile apps and support portals provide customers with the tools to access round-the-clock service without ever needing to speak to a person.
Self-service technologies provide customers with what they want while decreasing the business cost of providing one-to-one assistance delivered by a human. For this reason, a growing number of companies are relying on automated solutions to deliver their customer support experiences.
The Rising Cost of Poor Customer Service
Yes, consumers want to be able to contact businesses through a wider choice of channels. Nonetheless, what they demand even more is that problems are resolved quickly and efficiently, no matter how they get in touch.
A recent study by NewVoiceMedia explored the impact of poor customer service on profits. It revealed that a failure to meet customer expectations convinced 49% of consumers to use a competing product or service.
What’s more, those who switched admitted to spending an average of $511 with a rival over the course of a year. Added together, this means, by delivering poor customer service, US businesses are directly responsible for putting $62 billion per year into competitors’ pockets.
Never Underestimate the Power of Human Interaction
Although machine-powered self-service has changed the role of customer support, businesses cannot afford to lose the power of human interaction entirely.
NewVoiceMedia’s research also indicates that seven out of ten consumers are more loyal to a company that provides excellent customer service. And one of the most important aspects mentioned in relation to customer support was the ability to speak with a person when faced with more complex problems.
Of all the consumers surveyed, 58% specified calling as their preferred method of communication with businesses, and 70% said that speaking to someone is the fastest way to solve an issue. These statistics reveal that for many businesses, the core of aspects of customer care are still carried out in the contact center.
Robot-Powered Customer Service Should Assist humans, not Replace Them
Most customers are happy to interact with robot-powered service tech if they can solve their problems. As soon as that doesn’t happen, the monetary cost to businesses can become huge.
When things become complex, customers still prefer talking to a real voice. That’s why smart businesses combine the enabling power of AI with highly trained sales agents and support systems. This way, when robots can’t deliver the service customers demand, human interaction is fast and effective.
Ashley Unitt is co-founder and chief scientist at NewVoiceMedia, a provider of global cloud contact center technology.