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E-commerce / AI

Who should answer your customers’ questions? A man or a machine?

May 14, 2019

People are getting more used to interacting with bots, but there are situations when consumers desperately need to talk to someone. A real human being, and not a machine.

In a time where so much of interactions are digitalized and automated, your customers sometimes need to be able to communicate with your company’s humans directly. This communication should not be neglected as a very powerful marketing channel.

Our society is changing. More aspects of our lives are digitalized, including buying & selling. If digital transformation of commerce is done the right way, it can result in a streamlined, more efficient and automated way of doing business. In the B2B world, efficiency is key for driving higher revenue and margins, and most of the time, efficiency and automation is positive. As long as everything is working as expected…

The human being has also been digitalized, in the sense that we are expecting everything to be available online, including help when we need it. As private consumers, we are expecting to find instructions and FAQs about our product online, if we don’t understand it or if something is wrong. It goes without saying that digital transformation of commerce must include digitalization of customer service as well. But, digital commerce actually requires more from customer service. There is the need for pre-purchase support, information about the product to help the customer make a purchase decision, and post-purchase support...

The personalization paradox

In a sense, modern digital commerce is becoming more personal. Personalization engines, AI and chatbots can make the digital experience less anonymous, if done right. People are getting more used to interacting with these algorithms and bots, but as a result of the digitalization, there are situations when they desperately need to talk to someone. A real human being, and not a machine.

Bugs, complicated tech, poor instructions and challenged designs will continue to puzzle consumers, and there will never be digital remedies for all of them. At the point when they have tried all the online FAQs and chatbots without result, then – in that state of frustration, is when your customer service is crucial. When they finally get in direct contact with a human being, with real feelings, who can understand their specific problem, who is pragmatic and flexible and who goes that extra mile to solve their specific problem - That point of personal contact can be the defining moment for how a customer perceives your brand. One phone call or chat conversation with Customer service can turn a customer into an evangelist.

5 benefits of investing in Customer Service

Increasing the number of people in Customer Service can drive substantial costs, no doubt, but we argue that an investment in Customer Service is an investment in your brand. Here’s why:

  1. Customer Service communicates directly with your customers.
    The more digital and automated we make our commerce, the more time will be made available for Customer Service AND the bigger the reason for a customer service that can handle the anomalies, not-so-happy-flows and the really complicated matters. The key to customer satisfaction is in-depth knowledge of the products and the infrastructure and the resources to solve problems quickl. The people who are communicating directly with your customers are your brand ambassadors. And sometimes the only ones left. If your Customer Service lacks knowledge, time and empathy, you are risking your brand. Who do you trust enough to speak to your customers directly?

  2. True loyalty (or life long’ish relationships) with business customers and end consumers is often established in the customer service experience.
    A friend in need is a friend indeed. If you as a customer gets first class help in a situation when you are totally lost, or have totally lost it, you will probably leave that conversation with a smile. Or at least a big sigh. That experience with Customer Service will determine your degree of loyalty towards the company, or brand, in question.
  3. A personal customer service experience is part of the customer journey, with the responsibility of ensuring customer satisfaction.
    A CS rep with the right knowledge and service skills can turn a dissatisfied customer into a brand champion.
  4. Insights from Customer service can be crucial for decision making.
    Customer service staff have access to information about the products, the customers and the customer’s use of the product, about usability, common issues and perceptions about the product. These insights are really valuable for product development, manufacturing and for the sales and marketing teams.
  5. Order recipients can become very skilled customer service personnel.
    Do you have staff that mainly just take orders over telephone or via e-mail? The people who have worked with orders often have extensive knowledge about the products and make excellent Customer service personnel. In our work with digital transformation of our customers’ organizations, we often see great results when transferring order recipients to real customer service representatives.