29 Aug 2023
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has become prominent in many sectors from marketing to financial services and healthcare – and many media outlets continue to debate whether technology can ever replace human touch and interaction.
Here, Louise Walpole, Head of the Finance sector at leading outsourced communications provider Moneypenny, and Jonathan Winchester, Chief Executive of customer experience specialists, insight6, share the business benefits of embracing the human touch in customer care and offer three reasons it’s good to be human in an AI age.
Louise Walpole said: “Human conversation naturally has questions and moments of silence as it ebbs and flows while someone is listening to another or responding. Whilst natural language processing is advancing, it’s still lacking in true human response, that is with authenticity.
“Human customer service representatives are uniquely placed to build personal rapport by asking questions, showing understanding, and guiding a customer to the resolution they’re looking for - whether that’s a call-back, booking an appointment or being put through to the department they need. And in the process, they’re garnering helpful customer intelligence as the human touch brings nuance.
“So, an experienced PA or live chat handler can read between the lines, perhaps suggesting other solutions, products or services as well as knowing how and when to reassurance a customer or escalate a matter.”
People-led conversations can help to unearth areas for innovation and new revenue too. Louise continued: “Letting a client elaborate on their difficulties completing a form might identify the need for a blog explaining how to do it. When people listen, it can shine the light on new process efficiencies, ways to support clients and even new products.”
In a study in 2021, people were able to spot the human interaction in a conversation with an AI powered chatbot in 73% of conversations. The chatbot likely revealed its non-human self by its formality and tone – missing the mark with how people really talk, and therefore type – although this is quickly changing thanks to more advanced AI solutions which replicate human errors and tone more accurately. However, the value of this statistic is that it highlights the human condition – namely that we need to feel seen and heard by others. We need empathy.
Louise said: “Empathy is an inherently human skill and it’s integral to customer care. It has the power to put even the most nervous and vulnerable clients at ease and in business, it’s what brings us closer.
“When people feel their frustrations have been listened to patiently over the phone, or that their concerns have been handled compassionately via live chat – it builds the rapport and trust needed to create loyalty. People really do buy from people.”
With 86% of people willing to walk away from a brand they've previously been loyal to after as a few as three bad phone experiences - greater use of empathy and the human touch has real commercial value.
Jonathan Winchester said: “AI is changing most things and especially transactional interactions with humans. As it becomes more educated, it will learn to deal with more of the emotional side of the experience. However, it will never deal with all scenarios and businesses have a real opportunity to focus on how to create more loyalty, through better emotional connections.”
Today’s clients want quick resolutions and not to repeat themselves multiple times.
AI powered chat bots can provide a brilliant way to steer people to ‘frequently asked questions’ and provide basic support such as triaging incoming leads, capturing data, and gathering feedback – but there is no substitute for a human response when it comes to solving complex problems in a timely manner.
Louise said: “Often, a question outside of the pre-determined script can confuse an AI chatbot or program, as can a complex query. When this happens AI chatbots can leave customers confused about to what to do next and frustrated they might have to start the chat process from scratch.
“An outsourced telephone answering, or live chat service manned by trained customer care professionals, can save the frustrations that AI can sometimes create - instead, making people feel confident their complicated or urgent matter is being addressed there and then, rather than it being a faceless enquiry logged in a queue.
“And when all aspects of these interactions are recorded directly into client CRMs, it means information only needs to be captured once! That’s another frustration avoided.”
Jonathan said: “Now is the time for businesses to journey map their own customer relationship and identify the emotional trigger points to reach out. This will put them ahead of the competition and partner AI while being ahead of the competition."
Louise concluded: “Technology is a crucial enabler and a means to deliver greater accessibility, immediacy, and efficiency - but it’s when it’s combined with the human touch that businesses can deliver the very best, personalised and empathetic customer care. At Moneypenny we’ve built our business on awesome people and leading-edge technology because we know the future of customer care needs both.”
To find out more about how Moneypenny’s people and technology are supporting their Partner Resource Centre page.