Technological advancement in the digital age has propelled us into a brave new world of unbounded possibility. It’s allowed software/hardware users (we’ll just call these ‘tech users’ for simplicity) to do incredible things that in any other era were unimaginable, and has provided levels of magnitude and scale that were heretofore unthinkable. However, with all of these advancements, complexity has also evolved - and it is usually beyond the scope of the average layman tech user. Until we’ve reached a point in time where enough people have been educated on the basic concepts of computer science at a young age, we will live in a world in which most adults do not understand the underpinnings of their most used devices. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to provide everyone with suitable avenues for solving tech problems when they arise - and this is where onboarding & support teams enter.
The trouble is, too many tech companies (or companies that have adopted advanced technology into their core services, like banks & payments companies) have focused on the wrong outcomes in providing a level of service to their customers that can genuinely help them. Rather than emphasizing the importance of positive customer experiences, they’ve sought to automate away the issues - creating chatbots and decision trees that seemingly lead nowhere, that rarely (if ever) result in that customer connecting with an actual human being who can help them. It’s unfortunate, because that doesn’t make technology any less complicated to use. The goal of automating away an issue might be to decrease a company’s headcount, but the ultimate effect will be a decrease in its paying customers.
Two of the top causes of customer churn are customers not achieving their desired outcomes, and not being able to access the support they need. Customer churn is not merely an indication that the customer’s needs haven’t been met - it is also usually an indictment on the level of service that an organization can provide. Whether customers take the form of companies or individuals, they become less likely to recommend particular products and solutions to others, which can cause a brand’s reputation to suffer. The simple fact is, it doesn’t take much to bring a customer to this point of relationship breakdown.
Customers churn because they believe that companies have been derelict in their duties in that relationship - namely, to provide service and support as bought and paid for. It has cost them money and time, and so it means a great deal to them when they feel either of those has been wasted. Feelings of discontent are not ever something anyone should want associated with their brand, which is why negative customer experiences should be prevented at all costs. They do not merely need to feel cared for, they need to be cared for - actively.
Relationships occur between people - not machines. Why then, would it ever make sense to automate away relationships and risk high abandonment rates? Why would you intentionally place obstacles between the customer and the team member that can help them? Hiding in any form, in any kind of relationship, is a surefire sign that things are not going well.
When products and offerings are significantly complex, the likelihood that a decent amount of customers will call in for support is great. So too becomes a desire on the part of the company to provide solutions that can intake customer needs efficiently & resourcefully. This means using automation to help and complement teams, not replace them. Automation is a tool that real humans can use to be more efficient, to improve on the relationship with the customer, and provide experiences that are beneficial for both the customer and company.
So, when it becomes time for a Director of Support, Director of Operations, or Digital Transformation Officer to work with management and decide on what tools they want to employ for their customer experience strategy, they need only ask themselves one thing: do they want communication, or torture?
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