The use of automation in customer service (think chat bots and automated email responses) is becoming more common these days due to its ability to increase efficiency and reduce the burden on human workers. However, in certain circumstances, human intellect, emotional intelligence, and empathy are needed to resolve a problem. As technology becomes more capable and lines are blurred between humans and machines, customer-centric companies will need to determine the most appropriate circumstances in which to use automation or actual humans to earn the best outcomes within the empathy economy.
In recent years, retailers and brands have opened up a variety of new channels, including chatbots, live chat and self-service options, through which they can engage with and support their customers. For the most part, that’s a good thing, giving customers more ways to reach their favorite brands, and giving these companies more opportunities to provide their customers with positive experiences. However, customers still should have the option to speak to a human if that is what they prefer.
Human interaction still reigns supreme
Conversations have always emerged as the main method in which humans work to resolve problems and build relationships. Empathy is what enables humans to understand another’s position and builds a trusted connection, which ultimately leads to the desired outcome. But while the concepts of empathy, conversations, and emotion seem simple and natural, good communication relies heavily on how words are spoken, not simply the actual words spoken.
Over half (56% percent) of customers believe a phone call offers the quickest way to get a problem resolved; in comparison, webchat was chosen by just 7%. When seeking creative solutions to complex service problems, most customers still seek out other humans.
In a study by customer engagement and analytics software firm Calabrio, about 79% of 3,000 consumers surveyed prefer interacting with a human instead of a chatbot or digital self-service channel. Also, 74% of those surveyed said they are more loyal to a business that provides them with the option to speak to a human, than those that only support customer service through digital or self-service channels.
Understanding emotional states
Brands need to be primed to handle various scenarios that require different levels of emotional intelligence. For non-sensitive interactions, customers choose the fastest means possible, such as email, chat bots, or website FAQs. But when it comes to more complex issues, customers want to speak with a human who can appropriately respond to the complexity and emotional nature of the problem. When it comes down to it, a customer ultimately wants to feel like they are important and their concern is being taken seriously.
Consider an insurance company, where customers often call to deal with difficult circumstances such as death, accident, or financial loss. Chat bots are incapable of providing the emotional support required in these situations and such coldness can be off-putting to customers. This could result in the feeling that a company does not value its customers.
Augmenting human empathy with artificial intelligence
As technology continues to advance, brands are now forced to find the right blend of automation and human interaction. Brands must tailor interactions to meet the unique preferences of consumers. By combining the best capabilities of humans and machines, the service industry will be a prime example for how human-aware and human-empowering technology can help brands deepen and evolve trusting relationships with their customers.
Backed by extensive behavioral science research out of MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab, Cogito delivers A.I. software that analyzes behavior through voice to give live feedback to call center agents and an instant measure of customer perception. The result is agents who are more empathetic and attuned to a customer’s emotional state, which allows them to provide better, more personalized customer service. The technology is being used by Fortune 500 companies like MetLife, Humana, and Zurich Insurance to enhance employee productivity, which will result in improved customer interactions and deeper relationships.
To be successful, organizations must realize the value of human connection and provide emerging technologies to amplify employee capabilities. By investing in employee skills and human-empowering technology—and realizing the significance of augmented intelligence—companies will provide better customer service offerings, increase brand loyalty, and support overall business success.