We live in a time when the global consumer population is divided in its digital expertise. One segment hails from the pre-digital era, when all after-sales problems were tackled face-to-face. The other, born into the current generation of technological advancement, is perfectly comfortable conversing with an AI chatbot. The third, and most difficult to address, is sandwiched between the two: used to getting solutions remotely over the phone, but still suspicious of automated responses online. 

Now, your customer service outsourcing partner may insist that going digital and adopting the latest technology is imperative to staying relevant. After all, you’ve got to keep up with changing times. Innovations like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri have made virtual assistants a necessity. 

Yet, a good customer service outsourcing vendor will tell you that an effective strategy must cater to the demands of all. Too many businesses obsess on improving their digital experience through AI and automation, instead of focusing on what consumers really need: pertinent solutions. 

Tech where possible, human where needed

The right combination of digital channels, bots, and human executives can transform consumer experience. Even if you outsource customer service, technology can make round-the-clock access to support effective. Bots can direct consumers to help sections on a website or app, answer routine queries, and solve simple problems more effectively than humans. 

In turn, human efforts can be reserved for complex, individual queries. An executive can understand and respond to specific needs better than a bot. So, allowing employees to depend on AI data wizards for access to information, will create a process to provide fast, relevant, and value-driven  solutions. 

The flipside to this, is having to train the bots. Allowing artificial intelligence to learn from the internet, can have unintended consequences. Take Microsoft’s Tay for instance. Less than 24 hours following its launch, the AI experiment was spouting racist remarks it picked up from Twitter. Now that, is a surefire way to lose customers. 

Embrace empathy

The best customer experiences come from off-the-book goodwill gestures from employees. Out-of-the-box problem solving requires an ability to understand the issue and the customer’s mood contextually. Even if AIs have personalities of their own, they cannot replicate the touch of human empathy yet. 

A successful customer service strategy needs to be holistic, putting problem-solving at its forefront. The real opportunity lies in collaborative intelligence, allowing AI to play by its strengths, and humans to capitalize on their emotional quotients.