So you call this establishment. A recorded voice answers and prompts you to press specific numbers for what department you are looking to interact with. However, you do not wish to interact with these departments. Then you hear “for operator, press 0”. You press this without any hesitation. The phone rings, while you wait with bated breath to finally speak to someone who is able to help. To your disappointment, the voice comes back on to say that all operators are busy at the moment and that you should please continue to hold. Frustrated, you hang up the phone.
In a previous post we encouraged you to think about which “customer” is more important to your business; internal customers or external customers. Today, we will talk about the kinds of systems in place to deal with the external customer. The above scenario happens every so often when we interact with business places or are seeking information. Do you think that having these “robots” field customer service calls is the most efficient way to handle this aspect of the customer experience? Some will argue that they much rather the clinical approach where they totally bypass the human aspect of customer service, where they can get in, get done and get out.
So the question that is on our minds is; which is better? Should we totally remove the human element of customer interaction? Should we keep it? Or should we find a balance that works for every party involved?
The simplest definition of digital customer service involves meeting the needs of customers through digital channels — from websites and email messages to text messaging, online chat and social media. Today, more serious companies and organizations have established customer service divisions that devote at least some resources to helping customers through these growing digital channels.
Among the more prevalent reasons for this is the fact that digital customer service reduces response time rather significantly. Instead of having to visit a physical brick-and-mortar location or sit on the phone for ten, twenty, even thirty minutes with a service representative, they can fire off an email, chat message or text message and get a response relatively quickly. Many people do not have the time to visit physical locations or sit on the phone twiddling their thumbs, so this evolution of digital customer service is a welcomed development. If you are like me, that’s a sweet deal.
There are however those persons who prefer interacting with human beings, which is known as traditional customer service. These customers don’t want generic communications, but personal interactions that allow them to build relationships. These interactions are tailored to the individual customer needs which boost the customer’s experience by making them feel “special’ and valued.
So then how do we bring the two together? How do we bridge the gap?
While digitization may increase efficiency, enhance the speed of responses, and manage some rote tasks to free up the service agents, it cannot replace the meaningful and relationship building ‘conversations’ that companies can have with customers. Customers expect to have such engaging ‘dialogues’ with customer representatives, and from a company perspective, these conversations help to build and deepen engagement, leading to customer loyalty, which in turn boosts profitability and growth.
Companies do not need to decide between digital versus traditional customer service, but rather have a healthy mix and balance of both. The fact is that everyone has limited resources and time, and hence it is imperative for today’s fast-paced world to optimize whatever resources a company has at its disposal. The optimal blend of digital and traditional customer service would help companies find the balance required to serve customers in the best and most customized manner.
Contributor: Nelisha Fracois