News & Insight

Going Back to the Future with Human Connection in 2019

In the 1980s sci-fi classic movie trilogy, Back to the Future, Marty McFly is accidentally sent back in time to 1955 where he must save the day. Later, he and Doc Brown travel to a futuristic utopia in the year 2015 with hoverboards and other technological advancements. After discovering their relationships were clearly not the same in future, they returned to their current year of 1985. Just like Marty and Doc, we understand that relationships matter in all aspects of life, especially customer relationships. Jump in the DeLorean and set a course for 2019 – we’re heading back to the future to put human connection at the forefront of the customer experience in a tech obsessed society.

A Return to Personalization

Over the last year, we’ve seen major advancements in technology from virtual assistants like Alexa to customer service interactions on social platforms via artificial intelligence (AI). Through the use of technology, industries have made groundbreaking developments allowing consumers like ourselves to experience things we never imagined possible.

Even in the midst of this technology evolution, one thing still holds true – consumers expect personalized experiences. In fact, consumers still want to interact with humans in certain situations, especially when dealing with multi-step processes or complex problems such as resolving technical issues, missed payments, or billing issues. This is something that chat bots and artificial intelligence (AI) have not completely mastered.

Self-service is only preferred for simple questions - chart

In 2019 and beyond, we believe authentic human conversation will once again be valued as an essential component of customer relationships. Especially in the engagement (contact) center, it’s time to re-humanize what we’ve de-humanized. Utilizing our Science of Dialogue methods, we partner with brands by empowering engagement specialists to create interactions that build rapport, trust, and job satisfaction.

Consumers want human interaction

When asked about potential customer service contacts either online or by phone, 85 percent of survey respondents say they prefer a customer service representative versus a chatbot/AI or IVR (interactive voice recognition) experience.

Source: STARTEK U.S. Customer Engagement Survey, 2017

Delivering the Experience

Despite the adoption of digital channels and technologies, only a human can care about a consumer. When consumers interact with self-service technologies, no connection happens. Even the most advanced artificial intelligence software can’t convey true empathy. Artificial intelligence isn’t going anywhere, but the success of utilizing this technology is dependent upon customer feedback and advanced analytics to better understand human needs. So how do you drive personalization with disruptive technologies?

  • Real Data – Real Customers: Utilize data based on your real customer base – not theoretical personas. Consumers are your greatest asset. Their information allows brands to truly tailor messages and promotions based on their unique wants and needs.
  • Walk the Journey: Every interaction point across the customer journey matters. The customer journey map provides a visual to help understand the consumer story, allowing brands to make predictions and decisions and create targeted messages based on data driven insights.
  • Create the Strategy: Data and insights from the customer journey allow brands to segment messages based on interest and determine what type of opportunities exist for customization. A consumer that only shops at brick-and-mortars versus online requires a different strategy than a consumer who completes all their shopping on a mobile device.

Despite all the attention AI has received, it’s still not widely adopted – yet. For those of you that thought AI would take over the world by now, think again. From a business perspective AI is still in the beginning stages of understanding human behavior and communication. To meet the needs and expectations of today’s consumers, your organization should take a two-pronged, human-centric approach as part of your digital transformation strategy:

  1. Use technology to automate simple questions and transactions to enable consumers to self-serve whenever possible.
  2. Deliver an authentic and personalized human conversation for more complex issues.

With authentic human dialogue, supported by the science of human communication, your organization can build trust and rapport with consumers to grow loyalty and retention, promote your brand, and increase revenue. In 2019, let’s go back to the future because real, authentic human connections matter in the age of the customer.