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18 NOVEMBER 2017

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Monday, 10 April 2017 11:51
Comment: Don't talk to me if you are not human
New survey shows what we think about AI

An overwhelming 87% of people in a survey group report they tend to stay more loyal and increase their business with companies who offer a real person to talk to at the right stage of their customer journey.

This is not revolutionary, it is not even a surprise, yet more and more companies are making the suspect decision to save costs by introducing automated robotic call answering.

Have you ever tried it? If you have  a genuine query, and say, you decide to take part on one of those online chat sessions, I promise that you will end the call in frustration at the low level intelligence, the long wait between question and answer, the irritating repeat of the "are you still there? We have not heard from you in a while" because you have given up and started doing something else because of the interminable wait.

More efficient than a human? NEVER Intuitive? You have to be joking. Useful? Absolutely not!

Yonder Digital Group canvassed the opinions of 1,000 UK consumers in January 2017 to investigate the role of live agent interaction and speed of response in customer experience.

They concluded that scrimping on customer experience can severely damage the bottom-line.

With technology rapidly responding to customer appetite and offering an increasing number of channels and ways for customers to get in touch with companies to make enquiries or complaints, it is not surprising that many businesses find justification in opting for cheap, fully-automated solutions to managing the customer experience. But research confirms this is no area to make short-sighted cuts as one analyst confirms that 60% of consumers have not completed an intended purchase based on a poor customer service experience; and another notes that 52% of consumers have switched providers in the last year due to a poor customer experience.

Chris Robinson of Yonder Digital Group argues that consumers have come to expect a choice of channels to get in touch with companies: "They may like to receive promotions over email, browse on an app, but make enquiries over the telephone. However they choose to get in touch with a company they also expect that the answer to their question, or the resolution to their complaint, is dealt with quickly and effectively and technology alone cannot always do that."

Totally correct. Automated call centres should go the same way as self-checkout in shops. There is a very good reason why there are more staff in up-market hotels and in First Class on aeroplanes. They make customers feel happier. By all means use technology to cut costs but done replace humans in contact centres. Empathy has a very important role to play, and machines can't do that. The most used button on a monitor would be "speak to a human" if there was such a thing.

By all means use a mixture of automation and humans, but make sure customers can choose. The summary of results below shows what happens when they can't.

Summary of results:
I tend to stay more loyal and increase my business with companies who offer a real person to talk to when I need it: 87%
I tend to stay more loyal and increase my business with companies who offer a choice of ways of getting in touch with them: 84%
I tend to stay more loyal and increase my business with companies who resolve my queries and enquiries quickly and effectively, however I get in touch with them: 92%
If I can't get through to a real person when I have a query with a company, I tend to take my business elsewhere: 69%
If my queries aren't answered quickly and effectively by a company, I tend to take my business elsewhere: 81%
 
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