Updates and additions aimed at improving a product or experience seem to have a knack for missing the mark. Think about how each “upgrade” to your favorite social media platform, or new feature included in one of your team’s critically important software systems at work, inevitably leads to some backlash. Many of these upgrades lack accuracy when it comes to creating a hybrid customer experience.
While product developers and owners have traditionally taken much of the brunt, similar blowback has begun reaching customer-facing teams in marketing and sales departments who’ve tried to “fix” the customer experience with technology.
Companies have invested significant time, money, and energy into building high-touch digital buying experience with automation technologies designed to create more “personalized” connections.
Systems built with AI-powered chatbots and other virtual support tools enable enterprises to reach more customers, over more channels, to answer more inquiries — all at significantly lower costs than doing so with all-human teams. Consumers also benefit by having instant, 24/7 access to helpful resources and occasionally also enjoy some cost savings being passed onto them.
But is the era of all-digital-all-the-time really the best way for enterprises, with various business units that serve a variety of markets and audiences, to remain competitive and gain a strategic advantage?
In a word: No.
The pendulum swung too far
All-digital experiences, while convenient and efficient, aren’t all rainbows and roses. Even though more than half of consumers now use messaging apps and bots to communicate with a brand or vendor, many are realizing that the digital-only buying process isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
85% of global consumers still prefer to interact with a human agent than virtual assistant.
Recent research suggests that more than 85% of global consumers still prefer to interact with a human agent than a chatbot or virtual assistant.
Providing only digital interactions means your business may miss out on connecting with a significant portion of your customers or prospective customers who value humanity over technology. This can translate to lost revenue opportunities and, paradoxically, increased customer churn.
Delivering a digital-only platform can lead some customers (particularly older generations) to become frustrated with their experience or feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information and choices available to them. In the end, any less-than-desirable customer experience can have a dramatic impact on sales and, importantly, customer loyalty.
Hybrid Customer Experience: machine AND human, machine or human
Organizations seeking to maximize growth opportunities while delivering the personalized experiences required to keep their existing customers happy shouldn’t view their options as digital experiences vs. non-digital ones or having to choose one or the other.
Instead, they should aim to strike a balance between their affinity for efficiency and the “cool factor” of being a digitally-enabled business with the time-tested authenticity of the human touch – a hybrid customer experience.
In most cases, that means eschewing the allure of expensive, all-encompassing, and hard-to-maintain AI-powered platforms in favor of more cost-effective and simpler smart bots and custom automation that guide customers and prospects directly to the human agent who can help them.
This intermediate approach not only helps to spare a company’s increasingly limited financial and human resources without sacrificing efficiency or the customer experience, but provides customers with varying levels of interactions and information to satisfy most any need.
Like AI chatbots, smart bots can be easily configured to answer common questions and execute routine tasks like resetting passwords or adding or dropping a service. But the custom automation component is the real differentiator.
Smart bots provide a conversational way to:
- Understand customer intent
- Automatically route them to the right human agents to get help for more complex issues
- Transfer to the appropriate team when there’s an up-sell opportunity for bringing additional value to the relationship (for both the customer and the business)
The 3 reasons you can’t eliminate live chat from your customer experience
If you’ve wondered how your business can stand out from competitors and deliver a superior customer experience that boosts sales, satisfaction, and long-term customer loyalty, here are three essential reasons your company should combine smart bots and custom automation with your existing live chat operations should offer human engagement to your customers regardless of your current digital support environment.
- Offer an empathetic ear
- Let them vent
Sometimes, all people want is someone to confirm that they’re making a sensible purchase decision or that they aren’t asking a silly question. Whether it’s an affirmation that the insurance plan selected is adequate for a safety-focused, growing family or a verbal checklist confirming a software meets all your business needs, humans are happy when someone validates our concerns and reassures us that we’re making a wise decision—staving off the much-despised buyer’s remorse.
2. Offer an empathetic ear
Few things make customers feel appreciated and valued like giving them undivided attention. Customers want your attention, not that of a machine or automated response software, particularly because AI and machine learning-driven platforms haven’t evolved yet to master the art of empathy.
Humans can relate to your customers’ personal experiences in ways that software programs cannot. Unsurprisingly, something as simple as acknowledging frustration with a product or sharing a similar personal anecdote makes your brand more relatable and provides customers with an emotional gratification that make them feel their concerns.
Try as it might, your chatbot probably isn’t yet capable of emotional intelligence, judgment and wisdom, creativity, humor and warmth instinctive to humans and developed with time and experience. And your customers will notice.
3. Let them vent
One of the most gratifying feelings as a customer—as a human being—is having an outlet for venting our anxieties, frustrations, or general discontent to someone sensitive and understanding.
Despite your best efforts to make the perfect product or deliver the perfect service, your customers will still want an outlet or human engagement, someone with whom they can express and dispel their worries when the time comes.
It could be something as simple as a half-hearted complaint about an excessive sign up process. It might be a more complex topic like a particularly challenging software configuration that’s stumped most of their IT department. Chances are they’ve already exhausted most of their options for getting an answer and are in search of additional direction.
Regardless of the reason, if they’re frustrated about your product or service, or they’re just not quite sure which one they should buy, they need an outlet to vent this frustration. A human outlet that will listen and resolve their issue personally delivers an experience and value that no amount of automation or machine intelligence can provide.
In the age of AI and widespread automation, adding a human touch to your customer experiences can help significantly elevate the customer experience without consuming your entire budget. In addition to providing a convenient, accessible channel for direct personalized engagement, live chat platforms paired with custom automation helps route customer conversations to the right team or agent for an immediate response. It can be deeply analyzed for patterns, trends, or other clues that can help an organization strategically improve its front-line customer engagement experiences to be more competitive, approachable, and trustworthy.
Download “Complex Times Call for Simple Measures” to learn more about using bots, automation, and live chat solutions to create a hybrid customer experience that makes your brand more relatable to customers.