Digital transformation without a human touch becomes digital dystopia

Via Avaya Newsroom

Aug 3, 2018

** August 6, 2018**: Trillions are expected to be spent on digital transformation in the coming years, with a large share allocated towards communications technologies. It’s great to see companies understanding the critical role of communications for successful digital transformation, but could it be the tide is turning too fast, too hard? Servion Global Solutions predicts that by 2025 AI will power 95% of all customer interactions including phone and online conversations that can make it nearly impossible to spot the bot.

Automation is an effective way to improve key service metrics like response time and first call resolution, and research shows remarkably high satisfaction rates for AI-powered channels like live chat. But the fact remains that different service methods are preferred for different circumstances, with many of those circumstances still calling for human contact. A new IDC study sponsored by Avaya finds that 40% of customers seek human assistance for filing complaints and returning products. In fact, 56% say they require access to a specialist rather than a general customer services rep.

We see this need for human contact across the board. For example, over 80% of customers in industries like financial services, hospitality and cable TV either still want the option of a live person for discussing their needs or prefer it over streamlined, automated service.

It’s imperative that communications infrastructure be modernized, but at what cost? Companies are rapidly digitizing communications for fear of failing to offer convenient interaction methods, yet their well-intentioned efforts may be causing them to do just that. Avaya VP and Chief Technologist Jean Turgeon recently discussed how this affects outcome-based personalization.

“No one kind of engagement or consumption model is better than another,” he says. “Just because someone prefers not to use social media, for example, or a mobile device to engage does not make his or her experience any less important. It’s imperative that businesses can personalize services in a way that allows users—customers, citizens, partners, employees—to consume them however they prefer.”

But in a world where only 5% of engagement methods involve a human being, customers cannot choose the form of engagement they believe best serves them.

On a related note is the culture of digital business transformation: it’s not enough to simply put a person on the phone. Humans are uniquely suited to do what technology can’t, and that is what fosters incredible connections and relationships (research shows customers who receive more human service display more positive behaviors toward brands). Consider the phrase: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” The right culture—built on trust, accountability and empowerment—ensures employees’ cups are overflowing, positively impacting the work they do.

Chris McGugan, SVP, Solutions and Technology at Avaya recently discussed this as it pertains to DevOps, a practice where many traditional and/or specialist roles are being eradicated.

“In today’s ‘evolve or die’ era,” he says, “companies must focus on system adaptation and integration. Yet … something is missing; technology alone isn’t enough. That’s because technology doesn’t create a culture of trust, accountability and integrity—people do. Real transformation—going from initiation to sustainable, long-term change—depends on the right culture and the right people.”

The human touch will always be an important part of digital transformation. It’s what drives authentic customer relationships, collaborative work environments, and sustainable, long-term change. This is a significant barrier to companies’ transformation efforts resulting in market disruption (currently achieved by only 19% of companies, according to the IDC study).

Further explore IDC’s findings in Avaya’s report “Digital Transformation: Insight Into Getting it Right.”

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