The Future Of Customer Service = The Best Of Man And Machine

Kirsi Tarvainen

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, Internet of Things…customer service is experiencing a revolution. The balancing act between customer satisfaction and cost control is getting easier thanks to intelligent technology.

It has been estimated that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions with a company will be handled without human involvement. In many cases, customers don’t care how they get their answers – as long as they get them quickly and conveniently.

However, not everything can be automated. There will still be many occasions where customers want to talk to a real human being. People still appreciate talking to a friendly person instead of using automated services. Or, the customer might have a complex issue that is easier to discuss with someone instead of using automated services.

And we should not underestimate the power of emotions: the customer might be worried, anxious, or puzzled, and appreciate the friendliness, compassion, and encouragement that only another human can convey.

The importance of human touch

Since there will be fewer and fewer in-person interactions in the future, the importance of them will rise. Luckily, many routine tasks will be automated and customer service agents can concentrate on what they do best: Deliver value-adding personal service to your customers. Another area where the new technologies help: Artificial intelligence and Internet of Things can help customer service agents quickly find the answers to the customers’ issues – giving them more time to really listen to the customer, and talk with them to better understand the issue and find the best alternative for them.

The speed of AI technology together with the personal touch of a competent customer service agent makes a powerful combination.

The purpose of new technology is not to get rid of all customer calls. And the purpose is not to get rid of customer service agents. The purpose is to combine the strengths of man and machine to make customers happy.

How to combine the strengths of man and machine and deliver great customer service:

  • Know your customers: What are the areas they want to take care of themselves? Where do they appreciate personal help? The key is to build easy-to-use automated services, but also make sure that in-person help is available as soon as your customers need it.
  • Data is the key: Make sure you utilize all existing data from all data sources: the business systems, websites, marketing brochures, past customer interactions, user guides, etc… Make the relevant data available for your customers and your customer service personnel. This will allow you to improve your self-service options as well as your agent-assisted service.
  • Deploy chatbots, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things to cover simple and routine tasks: That frees human resources and gives your service personnel time to focus on customers who need in-person help. Your customer service agents can do what they are good at: engaging with your customers.

To learn more about the future of customer service, watch this recording from the SAP Hybris Summit.

This article originally appeared on The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce.


About Kirsi Tarvainen

Believing strongly that we all deserve good customer service, Kirsi has been working in customer service field for more than fifteen years. In her current role in SAP Hybris she works for SAP Hybris Service Solutions, helping companies worldwide improve their customer experience.