Finding the right balance between digital and human customer service
Our team here at Liveoak Technologies recently came across this white paper by Verint called “The Digital Tipping Point: How do organizations balance the demands for digital and human customer service”. The title of this report piqued our interest as Liveoak is built on the premise that human interaction and live assistance are required in the digital world with complex customer experiences.
Here is a high level summary:
- Organizations that embrace digital may be on the pathway to success, but those who do so at the expense of traditional customer service risk falling behind
- Consumers want a human element to remain part of customer service
- Those who receive more “human” or traditional customer service display more positive behaviors toward brands
- The complexity of the request heavily influences whether a customer will choose a digital or traditional channel
- Organizations are aware of the importance of the human touch in customer service, yet most business leaders are planning to implement more digital service options
- The younger generations are driving demand for digital channels, but for digital customer service to really succeed, it needs to provide a more human experience
Below are the key findings from the study that surveyed 24,000 consumers in 12 countries and 1,019 organizations:
White paper: Why do we still prefer a human element in customer service situations? It all comes down to complexity. Interacting with a brand or service provider can be complicated, and it requires empathy, emotional intelligence and an ability to process information with a broad set of parameters.
Liveoak Experience: This is in line with our direct experience working with enterprises that are transforming their business processes to include digital access points for their customers. Customer drop off and incomplete application rates (or errors) increase with complexity. This can be counterproductive for companies who are investing heavily in digital transformation for new customer onboarding. To ensure a smooth customer journey, companies can deploy a hybrid approach using both digital and human involvement.
White paper: When customer interactions become more complicated, the reliance on human interaction becomes even greater. For fairly complex inquiries, 60 percent of consumers will choose human interaction. When the request is considered complicated, more than two third (67 percent) of consumers prefer human customer service.
Liveoak Experience: With simple forms that collect basic data (i.e. online shopping checkout process), a fully automated customer experience can be successful with the right user experience and design. However, complex transactions such as onboarding a new financial services/banking customer or completing a complex vendor agreement, requires a digital experience that includes human assistance. Traditionally, customers interact directly with a brand by calling, visiting the branch/store or using website chat for live assistance. Technology now includes the ability to use digital video conferencing combined with collaborative tools to create the same effect as having representatives and customers meeting face-to-face.
White paper: Convenience has been touted as one of the greatest drivers of the digital revolution, allowing people to contact organizations whenever they want – in the comfort of their own home or on the move. The popularity of internet banking and mobile banking apps is testament to this.
Liveoak Experience: Providing omni-channel access to customers (i.e. creating multiple communication channels and access points) is most definitely a trend that will continue to grow with digital transformation.
Our customers are focused on remote, digital customer experiences – recreating the power of a face-to-face meeting through video conferencing and integrated tools that allow representatives and customers to securely verify, collaborate, upload and sign documents inside a single user session.
White paper: When asked about the future of customer service, the results are clear. The vast majority (83 percent) believe that speaking to a customer service representative on the phone or in store will always be important. This is because, ultimately, humans are able to process many pieces of information at once. They are able to manage requests with broad parameters, while picking up on nonverbal cues and displaying empathy and emotional intelligence.
There has been much discussion about the rise of digital and digitized communications channels. Yet, as this research shows, human contact is still extremely important. This is because humans are inherently complex, and complex communication requires a human touch.
There are many factors that influence a customer’s engagement preference, from industry sector to complexity of request and other environmental factors. It is not so much that there is a single tipping point where digital or automated service will overtake human customer service, but rather a need for a joined up and integrated customer journey that encompasses choice, trust, security, transparency and personalization.
Given the importance that consumers of the future place on digital channels, businesses have a real opportunity to act now and establish, advance and evolve their digital proposition. However, organizations need to make sure they strike the right balance between these key elements if they are to successfully transition to more cost-effective, digitally driven customer service.
Liveoak Experience: In our daily discussions with customers, we have learned that there are a variety of reasons why human contact is needed in digital customer experiences such as customer questions, procrastination, lack of motivation, need for human interaction and technology limitations. Beyond finding a technology solution, the challenge for companies is figuring out at what point to bring human involvement into the digital process and how to integrate new tools with existing technology.
It is possible for companies to provide an integrated customer journey that encompasses choice, trust, security, transparency and personalization. This is the type of consultative advice and technology that we provide every day here at Liveoak.