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I recently saw a quote by IntelliResponseabout how Gartner is predicting that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. In fact, in one of their recent surveys, 56% of the respondents indicated that they have a self-service initiative underway. However, the challenge remains with the people using it and the technology.  

It’s All About the Customer Experience

This idea of 85% customer interaction without a human might seem difficult to imagine, but considering the ways technology has become more widely adopted, it is quickly becoming more of a reality. Being primarily focused on the customer experience, I began to wonder about the customer and how they would handle the lack of human interaction. Of course, if all is going well, there is no problem, but what if things aren’t running so smoothly?

Today’s customer is more empowered than ever, and this trend will only continue to evolve. They have growing requirements, expectations, and demands for new ways of interacting with and assisting them. However, this also presents a challenge in designing and implementing these new methods, in modifications to processes, security challenges, new tools, etc., all targeted at what we hope will result in delivering that “wow” customer experience. So, can technology deliver that “wow” without the human connection and satisfy my business needs as a supplier at the same time?

Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things

In my estimation, the primary challenge will be in having the courage to test these new ideas. So challenging, in fact, that today we find that CEOs and their companies are still struggling to deliver a better customer experience. I am sure they are thinking about strategy as it pertains to mobility, digitization, big data, knowledge management, the internet of things, and so forth, but how courageous are they in really getting into the game on a committed basis? You must ask yourself whether your customer relationship management software, tools, and new technologies are going to cut it as you move forward. It seems to me that the faster technology moves, the more we find ourselves lagging behind. 

There is no magic bullet here, but in all of my years of experience, I have tried to live by one main rule: make sure the primary processes in place work as expected, taking into consideration what the customer expects, not necessarily just what’s best for the business. Determining the best next steps to take to follow this rule can be achieved through the effective use of customer journey mapping.

Will Virtual Support Replace Human Interaction?

While I do see the future as a connected platform, where technology works together to deliver effectiveness, efficiency and a better experience, I am not so sure that people will stop playing an important role in the customer experience.

When talking about the future of your business, having a strategy for the technology you introduce is critical, but having a strategy centered on your customer processes is equally important. Customer journey mapping can help you improve, enhance, and advance your support channels, both human and virtual.

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Dennis Gershowitz

About Author Dennis Gershowitz

Dennis Gershowitz is the founder and president of DG Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in driving service revenues and profits through the development and implementation of customer experience management (CEM) strategy and service operations improvements. DG Associates is a TSIA Consulting Alliance Partner.