We’re currently at that time of year where many firms, large and small, are starting to make plans and set budgets for what they are going to do over the course of 2017.
As such, we are in the midst of conference season and many firms are looking for ideas and inspiration on how they can develop and improve their strategy for the coming year. I’ve been lucky enough to have spoken at a few of these conferences and have attended a few more. At them, however, much of the agenda and talk has been about digitisation and the increased use of new techniques and technologies including predictive analytics, programmatic marketing, personalisation, robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) and how firms can use them to both improve and personalise their customer experience.
Now, many of the possibilities that are being discussed are very interesting and exciting. But, I’ve been struck but how little is being said about the human role and how it fits into this fast evolving world of high-tech customer experience.
This is despite the fact that customers continue to report that they value the human touch or that they are regularly frustrated by their inability to speak to a real person when they encounter a problem that needs resolving.
So, is there a disconnect emerging between what customers want and what companies are delivering? And, are companies, when faced with designing a compelling customer experience, defaulting to digital or technology-only solutions?
If so, there is a risk that many of them will continue to invest heavily in new technology but, in doing so, may only succeed in driving a wedge between them and their customers.
My concerns are backed up by a new research report from Accenture where they suggest that many firms will need to consider how they rebalance and redefine the balance of technology and human involvement in customer experience over the coming year.
The report goes on to say that:
This might be hard for many companies to hear, given their investments in digital and other new technologies, and will have profound economic and organisational implications for some.
But, it is a conversation and set of considerations that many, if not all, firms will have to address if they are to continue to compete and deliver the customer experience that their customers want.