While technology may be making our lives easier, there is evidence that it’s also making us stupid…or at the least, very lazy. (Don’t even try to deny those days you’ve spent completely on social media or getting sucked into a spiraling string of YouTube (News - Alert) videos).
A majority of Americans tout high-speed Internet both at home and on the gadgets filling their pockets. Today, we’ve undoubtedly become reliant on these technologies and devices to a pretty deep extent. Need a reminder to take a pill? Your smartphone can do that. Can’t remember how to get to your client’s office? Turn on the GPS. Need to e-mail your brother and remind him he owes you money? Ask Siri to do it. You get the picture, and if you don’t, there’s some device out there that can help you do that, too.
While many fans of pop culture eagerly await the Zombie Apocalypse, there is evidence we’re already there. In any given crowd, chances are, you’ll find at least half the people staring at smartphone screens, oblivious to their surroundings. It’s not hard to find news items about people walking into open manhole covers or off piers because they were too busy playing “Angry Birds” to notice. In the eyes of WorldCrunch, as recently reported, we’ve handed over responsibility for ourselves to machines in many ways.
“The situations in which we delegate our responsibility to objects or programs are multiplying: Search engines algorithms decide which websites best match our needs; the so called ‘service’ robots that are supposed to take better care than us of the elderly or autistic children; the GPS navigators without which we are completely lost,” the site divulged.
While we hand responsibility to machines in our home environment, it simply cannot be denied that we’re also doing it when we interact with businesses. Many companies have decided that keeping humans on staff is simply too expensive, which is why they’ve shifted customer service to Web-based FAQ pages or interactive voice response (IVR) technologies that never allow us to speak with human beings.
Smart companies use IVR technology to keep costs down. They help route calls to the right place or assist willing customers in doing automated tasks such as checking balances or paying bills; however, one thing they should never be is a substitute for personalized human customer service. IVR helps enhance the customer experience, not replace it. Keeping this key difference in mind is what will propel your business to new heights.
The thing is, one can’t only rely on just one or the other. IVR and human interaction are meant to complement one another, and when done right, it yields phenomenal results. The Harvard Business Review recently blogged about this topic to tackle it head on, yet in doing so, postulates that companies should do away with IVR technology altogether, ultimately limiting interaction with customers to live agents.
Many think that this either too extreme or right on the dot. Although it doesn’t make sense to spend money having human agents take the most basic (not to mention boring) of calls, there could be some wisdom in it – that is, if IVR isn’t going to be implemented correctly. In that case, the technology is more trouble than it’s worth, which can be a true shame.
IVR technology, which is often not a favorite of customers, needs to be well-designed and only a few layers deep (in other words, you should never have to “press one” or “press two” more than a few times). Also, it should be fully backed up by human agents who can intervene if the caller gets lost in the IVR menu tree, or if the choices don’t answer the customer’s question.
While American consumers may be perfectly happy about turning over some elements of their lives to computers and their personal digital devices, it’s simply too risky to presume they want to turn all their customer service functions over to robots. Human-to-human voice contact is still the most effective method of communicating, and when combined with technology in just the right way, it can become an unstoppable force.
Remember that the human touch is still very much needed when you’re building your contact center platform. Try not to automate yourself out of business.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo