Should we be automating CX?

Posted Friday, June 26, 2015 in Customer Experience by Patricia Seybold

My husband and I have interesting dinner conversations. He truly believes that we're on the brink of a major financial collapse. He also believes that attempts to stimulate the U.S. economy are doomed to failure, because, as he puts it in one of his blog posts: "The jobs are gone and they're not coming back!"

Automation is wonderful. What would we do without all of our labor-saving devices? Who wants to return to waiting in line for hours or days to register a car, apply for a loan, book an airplane flight, etc.?

As a customer experience guru, (and a customer) I appreciate it when technology assists save me time, make my life easier, and let me get things done at my convenience. I prefer never to have to make a phone call to conduct business (unless it's a professional whose advice I need) or a client I want to connect with. I believe that human touch is important, but it should be used for the right things. When I'm confused, frustrated, angry, or have a lot of context I want to impart, I much prefer talking to a well-informed, empathetic, and empowered person. But, if I'm just trying to get something done, give me an automated solution any day!

In reading Mitch Kramer's latest product evaluation of a Virtual Assistant solution from Next IT, I found myself wondering how many people this kind of technology--Virtual Assistants can now pop up on your mobile phone or on the Web to answer questions and to guide you through even quite complex transactions--is putting out of work. And, is this valuable work that people should be doing? 

Of course, there is other, higher value work that needs to be done to make Virtual Assistants work: you have to understand what it is that customers are trying to do, and to anticipate all the combinations of things they might need help with. But for every analyst who can design the knowledgebase, dialogs , and workflows that virtual assistants do, there are probably 200 call center agents who are no longer needed to do that work.

Will the people whose jobs are disappearing find other, more rewarding things to do to earn income? Will they find other, better ways to contribute to society?

When it comes to Customer Experience, what's the right mix of high tech/high touch?

Robot Talking on the Phone

Mick Stevens, New Yorker Cartoon

I remember on my first trip to China in early 2000, being impressed by the number of people standing by to help customers find the products they wanted in a supermarket. It was actually wonderful not to have to look around for someone to help.

On the other hand, when I'm online, if a virtual assistant can help me get something done more quickly and easily, I'm thrilled! I love technology that delights the customer.

What are your thoughts about automating CX?


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