6 tips to finding the right balance between Digital and Traditional solutions for the most
Modern Customer Service!
I recently watched a brilliant comedy routine involving a man with a thick Scottish accent trying to purchase cinema tickets from an automated phone line. “I began to encounter some difficulties,” he joked, as the machine blankly responded that it didn’t quite catch what he was saying. The comedian suggested that the Glasgow cinema must have been empty because the booking system was unable to understand anybody.
Similarly, most of us shopping at retailers with self-service counters will have experienced the frustration of the machine not recognising an item; or not recognising it has been placed in the bagging area; or saying there are too many items in the bagging area; and ultimately having to call over a till operator to fix it and take away the main point of a self-service till.
The lesson for businesses is that too much automation can have a negative effect on customer service: a hybrid approach must be taken between automated customer service and the human touch, so that artificial and human intelligence can combine for a fully thought out and integrated solution. Of course machines and digital solutions are transforming retailers, changing the nature of the relationship between customers and brands. However, as analyst Gartner recently warned, we need to maintain an objective understanding of what machines are capable of achieving, and stay in control.
With digital having a growing presence in retail, it’s important to retain human support and service, particularly in areas that could prove problematic for machines. The human touch brings personality, providing customers with meaningful interactions to make their customer experience feel like they are under the attention of another human being, even if they use a machine. Ultimately, the hybrid solution is likely to be the best approach.
How retailers can keep it real
There are some basic details machines might overlook which are second nature to humans, such as understanding customer accents. Businesses must create a happy medium between artificial intelligence and human insight. Here are some areas they can work on to create this ‘hybrid intelligence:’
- Live updates and Real-time engagement: Since real-time engagement will be most useful to those on the move, it should be tailored for mobile devices; and personalised so that customers feel you are engaging directly with them, keeping up with their mindset. For example, flagging service updates on availability via platforms such as SMS, email and being constantly aware of a system-wide problem, keep your customers in the know, without having to pause them from enjoying everything else they do in their lives.
- Making live chat/ video chat available: Calls and video chat represent an opportunity to retain the human element of a brand’s personality even online. Even a simple live chat is valuable: according to Econsultancy, 57% of consumers prefer to interact over live chat. The ‘next-generation’ will appreciate this more since they are use to texting heavily through social-media exposure.
- Two-way interactions on social media: Foster two-way communication by engaging with your audience and inviting people to comment, share and interact. This includes being timely and using the correct tone; nothing will annoy customers quicker than feeling that businesses are ignoring them, or aren’t taking their issues seriously. By directly engaging with consumers and answering their queries and questions, it is possible to create a genuine rapport as well as a communal feeling. As Econsultancy says, the majority of consumers expect a response to a social media outreach within two hours, so remember to be prompt at the same time.
- Scrapping the scripts: Underestimate casual conversation at your peril. Small talk is very important as it can calm an irritated customer. Give the customer the human interaction they were expecting when picking up the phone, rather than a robotic response.
- Offering channel-specific promotions: When emailing offers, for example, it can be a positive personal touch to explain it has been sent because you value that customer. Providing a unique discount code such as “DISCOUNT125JOHN” will go a long way to showing that you appreciate their custom and take notice of them whenever they shop. Such codes can be a great way of allowing personalisation when still reaching a large audience; essentially, personalisation doesn’t have to change an entire email or other communication, but should affect certain touchpoints.
- User-centred design: Place the end user at the heart of the gathering and design processes. Take the iPhone, for instance: its success was less due to its features, but because it placed the user at the centre of every decision when designing its user interface. The design should be regularly reviewed and updated in line with advances in technology, consumer behaviour and trends, adoption of best practices and lessons learned.
By addressing these six points, retailers will be in a position to enjoy the benefits of hybrid intelligence, using both man and machine. With a strong combination of the best elements of artificial intelligence and human insight in place, the quality of customer service can only improve and Glasgow cinemas can thrive.