Technology will be the death of customer service

Customer service will become a thing of the past by 2020 after new data revealed that 85 per cent of customer engagement interactions will be managed without people.

Talking at the Systems in the City Conference (SITCC) held at the London Stock Exchange, Microsoft’s Richard Peers suggested that “automated intelligence” will overtake people allowing firms to “engage with customers in a natural way, conversationally and in context”. Hmmm…. 

I wonder how many mobile phones have been destroyed because of automated call centres? Or how many self-service check outs have been damaged in bouts of customer rage after the item they just scanned didn’t rub with the automated man in the machine?

To suggest that automated intelligence is the key to good customer service is, frankly, absurd. Sure we may value a quick service and response – most people in London consider time more valuable than oxygen – but the notion that we can do without people is infuriating.

Computers can’t offer emotive responses, they can’t be compassionate or considerate if the people on the other end struggle with certain technologies, they can’t solve problems that aren’t addressed in a script and they certainly will never make customers feel valued.

Don’t be surprised if the march to automation is quickly reversed post 2020, or much sooner, preferably.

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