Chat bots. Order kiosks. AI-powered drive-thru window attendants.
Just a few examples of how technology is taking over customer-facing roles traditionally held by people. That tech is designed to increase efficiency, save money and fill roles few people seem interested in these days.
But while we’re only a few steps into this new world, it’s not too early to ask yourself if you want your company to be known for providing a human experience or not.
Choices to Consider Now
No one can say for certain where AI’s capabilities will be tomorrow, let alone five or ten years from now, but the tools will get cheaper and more practical for even small companies. As they do, you’ll need to decide if they’re an option for both your brand and your culture.
Or will you choose to differentiate your company by going against that grain? Will you instead prioritize warm, personal, “live” interactions with your customers? After all, those may be what people come to crave if the majority of consumer touchpoints are automated in the future.
In fact, we’ve already seen pushback against impersonal technology. After years of emphasizing their websites, ATMs and apps as customer portals, several larger banks have started to embrace in-person service once again.
An article at HitachiSolutions.com describes how some banks have acknowledged “the value of one-on-one, face-to-face interactions by turning their physical branches into customer training venues.”
According to a survey referenced in Forbes, “62% of consumers prefer to use banks or credit unions that have a physical presence, rather than a digital presence only.” Another report cited in that same article noted that “customers tend to need person-to-person experiences to boost loyalty.”
What You Can Do
Your caller experience can be one of the human encounters you provide. Start by making your phone number easily accessible on your website, social pages and printed collateral. That lets people know you want to talk with them about their questions and concerns.
Make sure your frontline phone staff is well-versed in how to serve callers quickly, efficiently and with an attitude that makes people glad they called. Those employees should know the answers to commonly asked questions and take responsibility for finding the answers they don’t know off-hand.
All employees who might take incoming phone calls should have details about any current sales, special offers or rebates, as well as any brand promises made via your marketing or advertising content.
Even the automated or pre-recorded elements of your caller experience – such as call center announcements and On Hold Marketing – should be crafted with your callers in mind. For instance, those initial greetings – “press one for sales, press two for accounting” – should be concise, easy to follow and written to guide callers where they need to be quickly.
Subjecting callers on hold to silence or an annoying “beep” every few seconds is the antithesis of a human experience. Your On Hold Marketing content should provide callers with valuable insight, practical information that can be applied to buying decisions, or entertaining Humor On Hold that shortens perceived hold times and counteracts the negative of holding.
All of that takes awareness, thought and creativity, plus caring enough to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, none of which can be replicated by AI.