Balancing Tech Advancements with a Human Touch in Customer Service

Balancing Tech Advancements with a Human Touch in Customer Service 1792 1024 Ben McCulloch

How do you adapt to technological advancements while maintaining a human touch?

AI is great at routine and easy to accomplish tasks, whereas humans can analyse and adjust when the unexpected happens, and they’re empathetic.

Ian Robertson, Customer Operations Specialist at The Forum, offers some mega insights into navigating these challenges during his conversation with Kane Simms on VUX World.


Organisations often fall into the trap of seeking a “magic bullet” solution. For example, many people were dazzled by ChatGPT, and many incorporated it into their chatbot, but did they consider if it aligned with their actual needs?

You need to do your homework. Consider a move deeply before you make it. Otherwise it can lead to unrealistic expectations and potential failures, as we’ve seen already this year with DPD and Chrysler.

Creating genuine engagement

It’s tempting to jump on the latest technological bandwagon without a clear understanding of its suitability to specific business needs. You need to ask who it’s helping, how it’s helping them, and whether it’s the best way to help those people. The use case should inform the tech choice. You should never shoe-horn tech into your organisation and then try to find a use for it!

Don’t rush to implement solutions like ChatGPT without considering whether it aligns with your customer service objectives. You’re not just wasting everyone’s time if you adopt the wrong technology for a use case – you’re wasting opportunities for genuine engagement. When done well, AI can elevate CX because it can resolve customer needs, at scale. When done badly, it’s just another negative headline on social media.

According to Ian, “I think the cost cutting is coming in faster than the improvement sometimes. Business will constantly evolve. You’ll always get a market leader who does something better, and grows, and then you’ll see everyone else playing copycat.”

Moreover, the obsession with metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Average Handle Time (AHT) often leads organisations astray. These metrics, while well-intended and valuable when used correctly, can become vanity metrics if not used thoughtfully, obscuring the real goal of improving customer service and fostering loyalty.

Doing it well

So, what does a good strategy look like?

Ian advocates for adopting a strategic approach focused on genuine service improvement, leveraging technology as an enabler, and continuously adapting processes based on insights from data. That’s how you can transform CX. This approach can lead to more efficient operations, satisfied customers, and, ultimately, a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

You need to understand the customer journey from end to end. You can do that by listening to customer calls and analysing interactions, or by conducting customer research interviews or reviewing journey analytics data (if you have it). That way you can uncover invaluable insights into customer needs and pain points. This hands-on approach enables businesses to identify specific areas for improvement, rather than relying solely on quantitative metrics. We call this Conversational Service Design at VUX.

But to do better than that, you need to align technology implementations with clear business objectives and customer needs. For instance, while AI can automate routine tasks, it’s not yet able to replace the nuanced understanding and empathy that human agents bring to complex customer interactions (and may never be able to do it).

As Ian says, “I think one of the key skills that you get in the contact centres is actually just being able to listen to people. You know, being able to show that empathy.”

The long game

You want to aim for continuous improvement rather than perfection. If you’re getting better results day-by-day then you’ve got progress. While the tech may be new, the use of it is as old as time. If you’re going to embrace new technological advancements, they must solve genuine customer needs. It’s best to see AI and other technologies as support tools that enhance human interactions rather than replacing them.
Ian’s insights underscore the importance of staying grounded in the fundamentals of customer service, even as we embrace new tools and technologies. By focusing on genuine customer engagement and aligning technology with strategic objectives, businesses can boost their CX with AI.

Thanks to Ian for sharing these insights!

If you’re interested in how to bring about the future of customer experience by taking a customer-centric, data-driven approach to service improvement and AI enablement, feel free to reach out to the team here at VUX.

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