Customer support is the most important thing any business can invest in today.
Your customer is your most valuable asset.
The more you can delight your target audience with fast, effective, and empathetic service, the more likely they are to keep coming back for more.
Unfortunately, figuring out the best way to offer service isn’t always easy. In today’s digital landscape, consumers are becoming increasingly demanding.
Although 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience, this often means looking for customer service that’s fast, delivered on a series of channels, and personalized to the client.
This can be very labor-intensive for the business, but it is worthwhile.
One way for today’s brands to manage a new influx of expectations for customer service, is to leverage the power of AI, automated systems, and bots.
The question is, when should humans be dealing with customer concerns, and when should the problems be left to the bots?
When to Use Human Customer Support
Human customer support is the slowest form of customer service—but it’s also the one capable of creating the best sentiment in your target audience.
When customers have a complicated issue they need to address, they don’t want to have to struggle to get an automated bot to understand their needs.
Clients in a difficult situation are often looking for empathy, creativity, and understanding – three things a bot can’t give.
59% of customers say that companies lose touch with the human element of customer experience when they focus too heavily on bots and automation.
However, human beings are also much more restricted than bots when it comes to addressing issues quickly.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of human customer service.
Pros of Human Agents in Customer Support
Here are the main advantages of using human agents in customer service:
- Emotion and empathy: Human customer service agents can empathize with a customer’s situation, share anecdotes, and even use their tone of voice to put clients at ease. Bots can’t mimic this element.
- Expertise: A human customer service agent can use creative thinking and problem solving to come up with unique ways to fix a customer’s concerns. Most bots and automated systems can only respond in a pre-defined format.
- Versatility: Human agents can decide when to go “off script” with customers, bringing in external experts and trying unique solutions that wouldn’t necessarily be advised for a chatbot.
- Better brand reputation: A set of human agents can give life to a brand voice and make it easier for customers to develop a reputation with that company. This strengthens the brand’s reputation overall.
However, there are certain downsides to relying on agents as well.
Cons of Human Agents in Customer Service
The most important downsides of relying on the human factor instead of technology have to do with efficiency:
- Humans are often slow: Creative thinking and human limitations mean that people are slower at solving problems than bots. Automated systems scan through information and perform tasks in seconds. Clients can get solutions within a few seconds of using an app.
- Expense: It’s often much more affordable to install a chatbot to deal with thousands of customer queries than to scale up a customer service team.
- Human error is a problem: Rushed, stressed, and overworked workers are often more prone to making mistakes.
Your choice will depend on the context.
Human customer support makes the most sense in situations where empathy and creativity are essential.
A good customer support strategy with dedicated members of staff can deliver unforgettable experiences to your customers.
All you need to do is make sure you empower your customer support agents to be the best.
Hire the right people, set high standards for customer satisfaction, and provide your agents with the tools they need to enhance and track their performance.
When to Use Automated Customer Support
Automated, digital customer support is growing increasingly popular these days.
Customers are more comfortable with solving their own problems with the help of automated troubleshooting systems and bots.
Indeed, many clients will happily search for an answer to a problem themselves, before attempting to contact a customer service rep.
Though automated solutions lack a human touch, they’re extremely efficient and excellent at using data to deliver quick answers to problems.
AI is everywhere in the current digital environment, from the marketing landscape, to customer support.
Let’s consider the pros and cons of digital service solutions.
Pros of Automated Customer Support
AI and other digital solutions have many benefits in customer support.
- Access to endless information: AI solutions can access all kinds of customer data and marketplace information to solve problems quickly and even deliver personalized, relevant experiences to clients.
- Takes the pressure off human agents: When automated systems handle self-service interactions and repetitive questions, human agents have more time to focus on complicated problems and tasks that demand creative input.
- Minimal wait time: Customers hate waiting around for ages for a customer service agent to help them out. A self-service solution could make it easier for them to access solutions quickly. Since most customers are now digital natives, they’re already comfortable with AI.
- Cost savings: Automated solutions save companies money and allow them to make bigger profits. With the right digital strategy, you can answer more customer questions and deliver better service without having to invest more into additional staff.
But what about the downsides?
Cons of Automated Customer Support
The downsides of using automated solutions have to do with relying on outside talent for development and lack of complexity.
- Design: You need a reliable developer or customer service bot creator to help you make an intuitive and intelligent bot for your customers. It may also be important to access help from a developer to maintain and occasionally update the bots.
- Limited support for complex issues: Most bots won’t be able to manage complicated questions which require out-of-the-box thinking and creativity. This will mean you’ll need a way to pass the conversation on to a human agent too.
- Lack of human emotion: One of the most important parts of exemplary customer service is empathy. Unfortunately, a bot can’t show emotion to customers, which can cause frustration.
Therefore, automated customer support makes the most sense in environments where speed is of the essence, especially where there is a large number of inquiries.
Most companies will use digital solutions to supplement the efforts of their agents, directing routine asks to chatbots and involving employees when there are more complex issues to resolve.
A digital customer support solution can be an excellent way to enhance your customer service strategy, speed up problem-solving, and reduce costs.
However, while bots and automated systems can empower and optimize agents, they can’t entirely take over the human role—at least not yet.