As technology evolves, there's talk of the unavoidable battle between the automation of jobs and human interaction. While some people believe technology will replace the average human worker, the eventual outcome is probably not as simple as this since human interactions remain superior in a number of instances. One of these instances is the field of customer service. Identifying the right balance of human/digital service to enhance the customer experience remains an open question for businesses.
Not long ago, Local Measure had the pleasure to speak at the Future of Travel Technology Summit, which explored the change that technology brings in the travel and tourism industry. Below, we take a look at the key discussions the event brought up:
1. How does technology integrate into the customer experience in terms of enabling humans to connect with each other?
Technology enhances our life experiences as humans - whether it be work, play, learning, or connecting. The possibilities available through artificial intelligence, augmented reality or cloud computing creates a wide range of options for businesses to leverage. In the realm of customer experience, technology allows customers to engage and interact with businesses in new ways. While e-commerce and online retail stores are on the rise, technology is also providing new ways for brick-and-mortar stores to connect with customers. As businesses engage in personalization at scale through new technology, consumers are able to enjoy unique and satisfying experiences that speak to them.
However, while technology enables companies to provide fast, convenient service at scale, customers ultimately demand human connections. Findings from a PwC Consumer Intelligence Series survey found that 75% of shoppers desire more human interaction in the future. This marks the importance of the human touch in providing an authentic customer experience for consumers.
When adopting new technologies, businesses should consider if they are seamless and frictionless for customers and employees. While it is important to stay ahead of the curve, avoiding the use of automation for its own sake will help companies create the most meaningful experiences for customers.
2. What areas of technology should companies be investing in to deliver a better and personalized experience for guests?
With the prolific use of real-time communication tools like social media, we're beginning to see a movement that is shifting towards collaborative computing. This provides a huge opportunity for businesses to tap into customers’ need for belonging and enjoying a collective experience. Augmented Reality is a prime example of how mobile technologies could deliver a more engaging customer experience through collaborative experiences. The technology is no stranger to hotels, as many have used AR to enable guests to seek additional information inside the hotel and around local places of interests. Retail brands have also incorporated AR into their marketing to create interactive events such as virtual treasure hunts that delight guests. Businesses can use AR to create an environment that enhances the existing physical space while entertaining customers with an interactive experience.
3. What is the right balance between technology and humans when it comes to customer experience?
There is no doubt that technology has enabled businesses to provide rich, personalized experiences that embrace the individual guest. However, many customers still require a degree of human connection, and as far as technology is developed, it will not be able to replace humans just yet. An example of how technology could go wrong is Chatbots - effective to execute low-level, repetitive tasks, but ineffective to deliver customer support with empathy and emotional intelligence. In this type of instance, a blended approach that involves some automation and some human interaction will tend to offer the right balance.
Ultimately, businesses must consider having a customer experience strategy that takes into account customers’ pain points as well as valued interactions so that they can effectively leverage technology for their customers.