Remember the good ol’ days when human beings answered customer service calls? Those days are far behind us and, if you believe the hype about artificial intelligence, the pace at which technology will replace humans is only going to accelerate. For example, in the healthcare industry doctors are now using robots to tell patients they’re dying (you can probably guess how well that is going over). Over the next few years, we’re all going to be impacted by AI and other revolutionary technologies, but this example illustrates the pitfalls we face when we overshoot the mark. To avoid these pitfalls, make sure you step back and think about the human side of your business. When doing so, ask the following questions:
- Can you increase the number of touchpoints between your employees and customers, particularly when your employees are addressing sensitive customer issues? On this point, you may want to consider journey-mapping to improve your customer experience.
- Rather than replacing your employees with technology, can you use technology to facilitate better interactions between your employees and your customers? You probably have a vast amount of information about your customers in your existing IT systems, and finding ways to leverage new technologies to provide employees with real-time access to that information can help you improve your customer experience and drive increases in sales.
- How did you interact with your customers 20, 30, or 40 years ago? As companies evolve, there is a tendency for employees to focus more of their attention on internal rather than external issues, which can slowly erode customer service. By looking into your past, you’ll probably find some old best practices in customer service that could be just as effective today.
- How can you help your employees feel empathy for your customers? If you can do that and make sure that your employees have the skills necessary to address your customers’ problems, you’ll not only increase customer satisfaction, but will also help your employees find more meaning in their work.
While it would be a huge mistake to stick your head in the sand and hope to avoid the coming AI wave, it would be just as much of a mistake to forget about the human side of your business. The winners in tomorrow’s economy will be the companies that strike the right balance of people and technology to create emotional bonds with their customers, employees, and other stakeholders.
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