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Beware a Robotic Customer Experience

AIWith all the discussion regarding artificial intelligence (AI), and how best to adopt it into contact centers, I worry it might put do away with human elements of customer care and pressure non-robots to create a robotic-like customer experience (CX). That would be a tragedy; from my experience there is no comparison to a truly authentic and genuine interaction that builds customer loyalty which comes as a result of organic efforts – not artificial ones.

Below are a several examples of robotic pitfalls to avoid in CX:

The endless automated phone labyrinth:

We’ve all experienced this nightmare where you are provided prompts and options to “better serve you,” only to end up once you finally reach a real live person having to repeat the same information you were prompted to provide earlier in the call.

Random pop-up webchat window.

Designed to “better serve you”, but only serves to annoy, and it often make you click out and go elsewhere. How many times have you been on a company website to check out some information only to be startled when a window pops up asking if you need any assistance. If I needed assistance I would’ve asked for it.

Humans who act like robots:

Too often, employees are instructed to recite a specific greeting when customers enter a store. This directive turns into a mandate, and in order to comply employees will speak the words but without any meaning or emotion. Eye contact is seldom made and their voice is monotone. What sounded like a good idea back at the company headquarters to make customers feel welcomed turns into having the opposite effect when you don’t allow people to be genuine. The problem is that people can tell it’s not genuine – so it has the opposite effect.

Heavily scripted agents

Your full name will often be used at the start of every response from the modified humanoid. Heaven help you if you ask a question that deviates from their process flow, then your call will need to get escalated.

These are just a few examples. I am sure you might have a few more.

People are not machines so we shouldn’t construct experiences for customers or employees that act and feel like machines. Efforts around AI should be focused on empowering employees to provide legendary experiences and provide customers the opportunity to self-select a more automated path. Also, we should give the non-robots more latitude to create an authentic CX, and do so precisely because of how automated other aspects of CX have become. The key is to provide customers the ability to choose how they want to be interacted with and empower agents with the tools to make their interactions real, authentic, genuine and mutually successful.