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The Automation Dilemma: Scaling Innovation or Building Walls of Discontent?

Tamar Frumkin
By Tamar Frumkin on Feb 1, 2017 3:45:29 PM

Are companies better off serving their customers with self-service and automation or on the path to becoming cold-blooded automatons. Where is the balance?

It may seem slightly out of place for someone earning their livelihood in tech to pose such a question, but in many ways, I feel that technology is over-engineering certain common engagements that work fine the old fashioned way. Whether it be long, bumbling phone menus when trying to sort out a situation with my bank or never ending self-service options on Help pages which never actually lead anywhere (ever had to modify a trip on Orbitz? Oy!), there are times that I just want tech to get out of my way, especially where service is concerned.  

Building Walls of Technology

Tech should be making us better, saving us time so we can invest in more meaningful pursuits and generally improving the quality of life for all of us, collectively. But too often, what seemed like a good idea at the time, is really on its way to the tech solution junk drawer, where we keep our old walkmans and Samsung Note 7’s (just kidding, that’s dangerous.) Simply put, if it’s not increasing efficiency, it won’t last.

Back in the day (I won’t dare reveal my real age) there was no need for “Dialahuman.com” as a catalog of secret combinations needed to reach an actual human being. You know what I’m referring to, “dial 1 for assistance, dial 7 if this pertains to your account balance, enter your social security number and then the pound sign, now hop on one foot and hum The Star Spangled Banner.”

The front line, in-the-trenches agent of brand building was a service rep on the phone helping a customer solve a problem. The sheer number of customers has exploded in response to more open markets, reduced transaction and information costs facilitated by ecommerce, the internet and telecommunication innovations. Companies are racing to be more efficient and automate to handle the deluge. It’s understandable and logical, but that doesn’t make it efficient or effective for good service engagements.

IVR - The Unnecessary Wall?

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) changed the game by allowing companies to handle a high volume of calls at a lower cost per interaction. Companies were onto something. ‘We can handle more call volume by adopting more technology’ the thinking went. But we’re now at a point where the true cost of that efficiency and scale of call scripting and IVR is eroding the benefits they were meant to bring about. It now takes Herculean effort to actually reach a human being.  

And that’s not all. A recent study has revealed that nearly a third of consumers would rather clean a toilet than talk to customer service. (Aspect Experience Index) Does that reflect the desire for less human contact, or the desire to not have 30 minutes hijacked by neverending phone menus?  Despite the smart thinking behind the IVR technology wall that was built, it turns out that phone service is not only inefficient and over-engineered (in most cases), it’s also more expensive than newer, more human channels. In a recent study commissioned by Conversocial, Forrester found that social customer service is 63% less expensive than phone.

So a tech wall was built, to try and keep out unnecessary human contact, while creating more clearly outlined processes for callers to actually reach humans, but in the end, you’re paying for it, and so are your customers. I'm sure that if Donald Trump had used IVR as an example, he would rethink his whole Mexican Wall idea.

Social Care Knits Together Humanity and Automation

Effort is the care killer for many legacy service channels as users become more and more accustomed to instantaneous communication and sophisticated conversation threads that  weave together simple language and convenient access. However, as of late, the rising popularity of social (both public and private) channels seemed like another fad that only super innovative brands were willing to onboard. However, the amazing ability for social communication to embed itself so far into our human communication structure has flipped this false forecast on it’s head. Social is sustainable as it has restructured so much of our offline expression and even our lives.

Turns out that channels like Twitter are not only the “go-to” for social movements, revolutions and political upheavals, but these Social channels have turned the tide on human communication and continued to set a raised bar of engagement expectations. And again, Twitter has proven to be a viable method for service resolution and has proven to impact customers to put their money where their mouths are, and open their wallets a little further after having a positive experience with brands on Twitter.

Read Twitter’s blog here to learn more.

Low Effort Equals High ROI

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Social Customer Service delivers 272% ROI - ROI of Conversocial Report

 

This stat speaks for itself. The low-effort of Social is not only a pleaser, but a money maker. Like its predecessors, there is need for further technology in order for brands to scale these channels for service. The rise of bots will answer this need, but also leaves a lot of room for “walls of inconvenience” to defile these instant, human channels.

You see, bots speak in binary, while humans speak in prose, alt-facts, and convenient omissions. Today the human language and our expression sets are evolving still as we are tempered by technology to click, swipe, emote through animation and show approval and support through likes and shares. How then do we knit together what is a seemingly cold, limited solution to human engagements that are so nuanced and evolved that it’s hard for us to keep up with the essence of our communication styles?

Service providers must be agile and follow the same best practices for multi-language support in sustaining this new customer with their changing expectations and new digital language. Technology and the influx of bots into our reality is to quickly dispatch our urgent needs to a human who is equipped to speak our new language or efficiently deal with our mundane service requests in the same conversational paradigm that we’ve come to expect when “texting” “messaging” or “notifying” any other contact in our digital Rolodex. To build a sustainable environment, service must remain human and conversational, intelligently localized and above all meaningful.

Just Let Your Agents Do Your Job

So bots are great for dealing with the initial, high level touch points of service on social, but the best tech tears down walls, instead of creating more effort. Technology should build bridges, improve communication and help humans connect. Social has been the conduit for intensely human connections and has forced brands to respond quickly to their customers, and bad service will stink up your sentiment very quickly.

That’s why even as our platform at Conversocial grows to include automation features (learn about Twitter Dispatcher), onboard more channels, provide full integration and full view of the customer, we never forget what the main differentiator is for our platform and the customers we are serving. They want effort-free engagements that don’t build walls in inefficiency, but introduces bridges for humanity, happy customers and prolific profit for brands.

Want to learn more about how you can incur 272% ROI on your Social Customer Service? Reach out to one of our social analysts and let them calculate your potential ROI with Conversocial.

Book ROI Session Now.

Topics: Bots and Automation

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