One of the biggest questions in the ‘technology vs human’ debate is: will it steal our jobs? The short answer is no. Most new technologies will not only serve to help customer-facing professionals to do their jobs more efficiently, but also increase businesses’ need to evolve in order to keep up with the demands. By enhancing services through technology, you can advance your company’s ability to deliver quality interactions the way your customers are expecting it.

A recent survey found that 72 percent of Australians believe Australian companies do not place high importance on providing excellent customer service[1]. In addition, 61 percent of respondents want their query to be resolved on their first attempt. It’s clear that consumers want product and technical support with middle-office and back-end service fulfilments that are met by human interaction, whether that be through the phone, live-chat or emails. This strongly suggests that people place a high priority on access to human representatives and not bots who are not only knowledgeable and provide the correct information but are able to empathise with them.

So, how can businesses transform the way they approach customer service with the help of technology? Australian consumers are seeking both a fast and efficient solution from technology as well as the benefits of human interaction. This means that companies need to understand technology should be used as a tool to enhance the customer experience rather than as a way to replace human interactions. By combining human and machine services, they can create a better and more meaningful relationship in addition to an improved way of communicating with their customers.

Bringing down barriers

While many believe new technologies actually add barriers to human interaction when dealing with a business, it’s far more productive to look at the potential these technologies have to remove these obstacles. Technology is constantly evolving in order to provide service in real-time – connecting brands and consumers across the globe, effectively making any business a global one. However, 58 percent of customers want access to human representatives and those to have immediate access to the information they are seeking.

Integrating front-end customer service processes with technical operations can provide actionable insights across the entire customer journey. By operationalising these insights, companies can create proactive, effortless, and seamless customer interactions that delight consumers with immediate transactions and increase demand for their products and services.

Enhancing performance

Productivity is directly linked to employee’s efficiency, and technology now plays a big role in identifying ways to improve staff performance. For example, in a contact centre environment where calls and sales performance are recorded and logged, managers can listen to the calls to identify particular issues and spot areas for improvement. That way the employer can provide training specific to each individual’s needs.

Getting to know customers well

The impact of word-of-worth should never be underestimated and is far more critical when the experience is negative, as nearly 80 percent of customers are more likely to share a negative customer experience than a positive one. Ultimately, they still value personalisation, so combining new technologies with human intelligence can have a significant impact.

In fact, it has been suggested that some machine learning systems are able to detect emotions with 80 percent accuracy, which are capable of establishing if a customer’s call centre experience was good or bad by measuring sentiment and emotion[2]. This kind of insight will be hugely valuable to businesses where customer relationships and loyalty are key to success. Customers still value human and voice communication and the context and personalisation that it entails.

 Technology is not enough on its own

Technology should be adopted as an enhancement not a replacement. The most forward-thinking businesses are those who look holistically at the possibilities technology can bring to their customer service delivery – and how the new tools can be combined with human interaction. They need to be mindful not to simply digitise every part of their customer’s journey just for the sake of technology.

The importance of a customer’s experience with a business cannot be underestimated. Often it can make or break their relationship and impact in future decisions about engaging with a business. As much as technology is discussed as a replacement to customer service roles, it poses many great opportunities to enhance and create new ones.