For many years, customer service has been an important competitive differentiator for businesses and an area that has been handled well by humans. With the rise of technology, customer service is increasingly being taken over by bots and artificial intelligence. Some of the most common customer service issues like “I forgot my password”, “I can’t access this site”, and “I forgot my password for my account” will be solved by a growing number of bots. These bots learn the answer by analyzing human responses to a series of questions. As bots get smarter and technology improves, they will answer more and more questions and gain an ever-expanding slice of the customer satisfaction pie. Yet, humans will still have a vital role to play as technology needs to be developed and maintained. Human expertise is needed for some things, such as providing creative responses or training the bots. Lastly, as the bots get more intelligent, customers will require more skill to deal with them, which humans will find it difficult to upskill in.
In response to growing customer expectations, the trend is for businesses to hire more and more customer service agents. However, this approach’s downside is that businesses have to provide more and more support to maintain customer loyalty in a world where customers have more choices. Their service used to be a white-glove service, but now it needs to be a platinum-glove service to remain competitive. Customer service is often a low-margin business. Businesses must find ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency when it comes to customer service while also meeting guests’ expectations. While automation helps achieve these targets, it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t disrupt the “unique humanity of hospitality”.
Another driver for automation in customer service is the increasing complexity of customer demands. Businesses need to cater to the Millennial generation’s needs, which have “unconventional expectations” regarding customer service. The millennial generation grew up in a world where technology rules every aspect of their lives, so, understandably, they would expect businesses to provide such a service. Businesses that do not give them what they want will suffer a competitive disadvantage.
Disruptions also play a role in innovation. With startups disrupting service industries, businesses typically keep their loyal customers but lose new business to startups. The solution to the problem is to merge the startups’ technology with big businesses and create a disruptive innovation within the business and capture both kinds of customers.
Automation has many benefits. One of the biggest is the ability to offer better customer service at lower costs. By moving many routine functions to a process, the business’s cost and that of the customer drops. Another benefit of automation is that it provides an opportunity to have a truly global customer service network. The third benefit is that customers can access service quicker than ever before, making the customer experience more personalized. On the downside, customers may have trouble expressing their needs to bots, which would lead to a poor customer service experience. Automation also threatens to replace jobs that better humans can do. However, this is not a problem unique to customer service.
Nowadays, more companies have chatbots on their websites to answer FAQs (frequently asked questions), e.g. Air New Zealand and Domino’s Pizza. They are designed to help customers answer questions that have standardized answers and some complex cases without using real humans and having a limited and pre-programmed set of responses.
More and more customer service agents use automated phone tree systems. These are highly customizable and adapt themselves to the specific requirements of an individual call. These phone trees can often be coded with Salesforce and other customer service software to integrate channels seamlessly.
The industries struggle to find a balance between a high level of automation and personalization, which many customers expect. There are also questions regarding the job security of those working in the industry, especially for the sales team, expected to deliver the human element of customer service. In the future, customer service will face the biggest challenge in balancing the need for more personalized service with less funding available for customer service.
The blog post was generated using AI with limited human editing.
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