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Retaining the human touch in an AI driven world

Younger generations are increasingly comfortable with fully automated experiences –interacting with digital assistants, chatbots and robo-advisors in their daily lives. But while these technologies have their place in the customer experience, it’s essential that businesses still give their customers the opportunity to escalate complex issues or discussions to a human operator. By offering the option to choose human interactions, such as a video call or the ability to book appointments in person, businesses can retain a human element of their brand and do a better job at creating brand advocates for life.

The human touch vs the AI experience

A truly customer-centric approach demands that the customer is placed at the heart of everything. To do this, firms should better use their CRM systems to their full extent, recording details of all engagements with customers, whether online or in person. While all of this can be automated, firms should never remove the human element outright. The question shouldn’t be “Can AI and automation do it all?” but rather “Do we want it to do it all?” 

AI and automation will of course have its place in every business, and can deliver enormous benefits, but won’t be the solution to every customer profile or inquiry. Companies that do choose to implement these technologies to improve the customer experience should also aim to reassure the customer that a human advisor can also be contacted any time they need.  

The Royal Bank of Canada, for example, last year launched a feature which lets its customers schedule video conferencing with its financial advisors through its digital application. While the bank is an advocate of automation technology, it believes that talking to a real human is still an essential factor for its customers.

It will be this combination of automated, digital services working in cooperation with human advisors that businesses should seek to implement to ensure the human touch is retained in the customer experience.

The data concern

Constant customer data collection is an important aspect of delivering a connected customer experience, whether automated or via human advisors, but is often something businesses think will push their customers away.

In reality, studies have shown that customers feel more loyal towards brands that know who they are and treat them uniquely. To deliver against this goal, it’s essential that marketers are conversant with big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. But organizations must also treat customer data sensitively and securely in full compliance with data protection and privacy regulations to build trust and customer confidence long term.  

Years ago, no one thought payments online would take off – now everyone is much more comfortable with that concept. The same is true for data sharing. Comfort levels will come the more the benefits of giving data are out-weighting the risks. In fact, younger generations are already fine with this approach. As customers see and experience benefits such as access to more personalized and tailored offers, they are becoming increasingly comfortable sharing data with the brands they trust. 

Building the future customer experience

Moving forward, it won’t just be the products and services a business delivers, but the overall customer experience that will be the critical differentiator for success. In a world where more and more things are becoming dematerialized, customers are less likely to go directly to unknown businesses for their products and more likely to go to those providers that they already trust to give them the best convenience and experience. Think about the way the high street has been affected by Amazon, the hotel business by AirBnB or taxi firms by Uber. These companies themselves have dematerialized their respective industries and focus entirely on the digital experience they provide to end customers.

To truly succeed in this CX-driven world, businesses must first ensure they have a solid customer strategy and then drive it from the top down. The best firms will use a combination of AI, data analytics and automation technologies to drive efficiencies in customer engagement, while also ensuring their customers have the choice to engage with real people, whenever needed.




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