Remember when we used to hear Prince’s song “1999” and it seemed so far into the future? Well, how about the year 2020, which is just 3 years away?
Today, robots assemble our cars and move Amazon fulfillment center shelves around. And, as technology advances, they’re spreading into other areas of our lives. For instance, many customers get irritated when speaking with customer service reps who seem to just be going through the motions, giving scripted answers, and rushing because they are trying to adhere to their allowed time per call. If you think that is bad, just wait—the future is here.
Within a few short years, we will be speaking with actual robots working in contact centers. Many companies that run outsourced call centers are working toward turning these jobs over to machines. An article in The Consumerist (“As Expected, Robots Are Taking Over Call Center Jobs,” June 21, 2016) tells how advances in artificial intelligence will mean that call center representatives and chat representatives can be replaced with cheap and reliable workers who don’t need sleep or meal breaks and who don’t get sick or have emergencies at home.
Every industry has an Uber coming. Every business is in danger of being made obsolete as a new business model, with cutting-edge technology, enters your industry and market and steals the majority of your market share. Digital disruption is the new buzzword in business, warns CMSWire.com in an article “Has Your Business Been Ubered?” (June 9, 2016). This lengthy excerpt is worth thinking about as you look ahead.
“We see business model after business model disrupted by the ridiculously fast evolution in mobile tech. New marketplaces are popping up all over the place, and increasingly faster communication keeps connecting buyers and sellers in new ways. Technology has truly punched the accelerator on business transformation in so many industries.
But through all of this, one immutable fact remains — the customer is king.
Customers today expect immediate answers and instant gratification. You may have a fantastic product or service, but if you don’t put an outstanding customer experience at the center of all your business planning, you will lose. This means the most impactful digital transformation strategy for your business centers around transforming your customers’ experience with your company.
In short: Make it easy. Make it awesome.”
The more you intersperse technology between the customer and the company, the more you create complex systems prone to breakdown, and the more you remove the sense of dealing with a human being. Whether the technology is complex voicemail systems or social media, the net effect is to de-personalize contact between customer and company.
Technology can never be empathetic, build relationships, or make a brilliant comeback when your company drops the ball. Customers crave recognition and a personalized experience. In short, technology cannot provide genuine hospitality. It cannot make people feel good, take care of others, express emotions and vulnerability in a relatable way, or make people laugh.
We have subconsciously sent the wrong message to all our employees that it is about the technology: our website, apps, social media, virtual tour, iPads, kiosks, self-checkout. So our employees start using the technology as a crutch, thinking they have less importance, less of a role with the customer. They rely on the technology to provide the experience. We need to reverse that. Customer experience is 10 percent technology and people are 90 percent.
We need to make sure every single person working in your business knows and understands one critical thing: You Are the Experience, or urX. Those who understand that the human touch is an indispensable part—and the most important part—of a great customer experience will make the difference. Customers and people are starving for a humanized experience, to be a person, someone who matters, with a life. It’s really about human connection. Whether it is face to face, ear to ear, or click to click.
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