Bots: Breakdowns or Breakthroughs?

on January 24, 2019

Customer experience has come a long way. Once only a focus of retailers, it has now become a top priority of almost every industry, including healthcare and education. There are entire departments built around it, books written about it, and billions of dollars being spent on creating it. So, if customer experience is so important, why are we allowing bots to talk to our customers?

Creating the most loyal customer from the ashes of a bad experience.

It’s easy to sit back and revel in your customer experience when everything is going well. Happy customers, solid processes, and zero hitches make it a breeze. But what about when that’s not the case? What happens when there are shipping issues and damaged products and out-of-stock items and nasty employees? What happens is a great opportunity to make the situation right and turn an unhappy customer into a customer for life. The resolution to the issue at hand is what determines loyalty, so we must seize the opportunity to create an authentic emotional connection. Customers who have had a unsatisfactory customer experience that has been resolved to their satisfaction are more likely to become loyal than those who had a seamless experience.

So, is technology standing in your way of creating that loyal customer? Gone are the days of a toll-free number being the primary means of reaching someone in customer service. Resolving customer issues is complicated. It requires savvy and a certain level of intuition. Email, chat, and bots – even Twitter – have risen as important tools in the customer experience journey and customer service problem resolution. In the world of multitasking, while you’re on a conference call or dealing with a toddler having a meltdown, those tools are gold – so don’t get me wrong – they have their place!

But what about when the problem is bigger than email, chat, or a bot can handle? What if the level of frustration and anxiety requires a human in real time and the company you need to talk to does not even list a phone number where you can reach a live person? Like when the holiday gift you ordered doesn’t look like it will be delivered on time. Or when the dress you ordered online for your sister’s wedding is MIA? What if you can’t access the show tickets on your phone and it starts in 20 minutes? What happens when your entire social media account disappears and there’s nobody to contact – you instead have to send an email through a generic contact form?

All of these tools that have enhanced the customer experience in so many ways can also be a huge downfall. While the bots are fantastic for simple cases, what do we do about the more complex customer experience breakdowns?

What do you guys think? Has the pendulum swung too far? And are we doing enough to turn an unhappy customer into the most loyal during breakdowns? Are we doing enough to maintain that human component instead of having customers go down the dark rabbit hole of digital communication?

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