Customer Experience: Automation vs Human Interaction

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In a world where customers are demanding more intimate, customised and efficient conversations with their preferred brands, companies are under a lot of pressure. Today’s businesses need to deliver convincing and consistent discussions throughout every touchpoint in the customer journey. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deliver on those goals, particularly for small businesses.

Chatbots and automated tools have entered the market. These intelligent and automated solutions are designed to help companies stay connected to their clientele 24/7. Whether they’re providing crucial customer support for existing clients or connecting to new leads, business owners often struggle to keep up with ever-changing demands. Chatbots require minimal supervision to answer questions, provide customer support and overcome simple and common issues.

According to some reports, the global chatbot market is expected to grow 8.6 times to a valuation of $10.08 billion by 2026.

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The Pros and Cons of Automation

As chatbots become increasingly advanced, they’re beginning to offer a wide range of fantastic new benefits to companies across the globe. These tools have shown their ability to offer something similar to a human interaction to customers through the right interface.

What’s more, automated bots:

  •   Can learn and evolve, gathering data from every customer connection
  •   Save money on paying for agents and live support
  •   Never need any vacations or time off
  •   Are easy to set up and use
  •   Provide excellent routing to sort through calls

Unfortunately, chatbots and automated tools have their issues too. The fact that chatbots aren’t live agents means they often struggle with context. They can’t always apply a deeper understanding to a conversation. Additionally, live agents and real people generally lead to higher satisfaction ratings from customers. 77% of people say that they wouldn’t want to make a purchase unless they could speak to a human about their questions.

Automated systems also struggle with decision-making they can only respond to queries that are already built into their workflows.

The Pros and Cons of Live Agents

On the other hand, human beings are somewhat limited in what they can accomplish. Real people can’t endlessly answer questions and gather data like a machine. However, they have other benefits to offer. For instance, 73% of people say that they prefer to deal with a live agent when looking for customer service.

As human beings, we’re all more likely to feel stronger connections to live agents than robots. This is particularly important when dealing with specific aspects of our lives. Despite the growing popularity of things like telemedicine, for instance, people often prefer human interactions with dentists and doctors. Alternatively, we have no problem using automated services for things like ride-hailing and booking hotels.

Live agents can provide a crucial human touch that helps to guide conversions and provide users with the information that they need when they need it most.

The Future of Automation and Live Agents

In the future, it seems as though the customer service landscape won’t be constructed entirely from robots or human beings. The companies that benefit most are likely to be the ones that can deliver the best of both worlds, in the form of automated systems for simple tasks like booking a meeting or retrieving account details, and human agents for more complex conversations.

While there are some predictions that the customer service industry could be completely overhauled by 2030, it seems very unlikely that any business would be able to completely eliminate human beings from their day-to-day interactions with customers. People will always need other people to help them solve their most significant problems.

As businesses face increasing pressure to deliver a seamless and personalised customer experience, achieving this at scale requires the automation of algorithms combined with the empathy of human beings. The future of customer service is an integrated one.

RingCentral helps companies meet customer expectations and future-proof their customer service. To find out more about delivering personalised customer experience, visit RingCentral at Call & Contact Centre Expo on 18-19 March in London. Schedule a contact centre consultation with one of our experts and we’ll provide the coffees.

Originally published Mar 10, 2020, updated Feb 13, 2023

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