In a discussion on LinkedIn, the topic of where customer experience is going was being discussed. Will customer experience be technology driven, controlled, or will the personal experience prevail?
Yes, companies should embrace technology because consumers want and need is a fast, efficient service. This is a key to making money, which is after all the point of being in business. Technology is good at establishing consistent processes and improving quality, but it also makes the customer’s experiences less memorable. Think ATMs and the self checkout at the grocery store. We expect these services now, and only notice them when they don’t work or take longer than dealing with an actual person.
If a company has awful customer service, then technology can make it a little better. But a key element is knowing when the dialog requires a human touch. The “human” requirement is mandated by the perceived level of comfort of the customer–which varies when it comes to technology and satisfaction.
If a company offers the very best of human experiences then technology often has very little impact at meeting someone’s emotional and practical needs that deliver satisfaction. So technology is a means to an end establishing a process and a base set of expectations, but it’s not the master of delivering a memorable or emotionally connected customer experience. It has the capability to add or distract from the experience depending on how it is set up and how it is being used.
Just creating an automated customer experience in the name of efficiency may appeal to some customers, but others will be turned off because they can’t easily talk to a person. Think about the last time you had to call your credit card or that 1-800 number for customer service and all you got is “Press 1 for…”
Loyalty is emotional. We certainly depend on technology, but when it breaks down, and it will, we want to talk with a human being for help. Excellent technology along with excellent communication skills by qualified people produce that memorable customer experience. At some point a human will have to interact on a person-to-person level to create true loyalty and prolonged growth.
Here is my question to you, can technology be a real customer experience differentiator? If so, how can companies create unique experiences that other companies won’t just copy within the next year.