Has customer service technology replaced humans?

Treat your customers how you like to be treated when you’re a customer. 

Seems like such a simple tenet—but things get complicated because everyone is different. What you like may differ from what others like. Still, one thing we all have in common is that we all want to be treated like human beings! 

Alas, the unsettling modern business trend is to treat customers like a puzzle to be solved. Businesses break down customers into data points which are analyzed, evaluated, and categorized in order to be marketed to more effectively. To some extent, many businesses even view their customers as a nuisance, a necessary evil they have to deal with if they want to get to the money.

Take Interactive Voice Response (IVR) for example. Nothing signals “We don’t care!” more than a company that doesn’t use a fellow human being to answer its own calls. Customers hate IVR, but it’s still used because businesses view it as a cost saver. 

We’re here to tell you that is not always the case!

The people vs. customer service technology

Not only does IVR send the wrong message, it puts your business at higher risk of losing potential customers. 86% of consumers want to talk to a real person, not a piece of computer code.

“IVR remains a wildly unpopular choice amongst consumers, with 98% admitting they try to bypass company IVR systems to get straight to a human service agent,” writes customer service platform Gladly.

“What about AI chatbots?” you ask. Artificial intelligence is altering the landscape of countless professions, including customer service roles. But there are limited pros and serious cons to incorporating AI into your customer service strategy.

The downsides of trying to use AI

As McKinsey & Co. points out, the three of the biggest challenges to using AI for customer service are complexity, higher expectations, and squeezed labor markets. Here’s why:

  • Complexity—AI is extraordinarily sophisticated and complicated to figure out!
  • Higher expectations—As customers get used to AI helping with basic issues, they soon demand that it responds equally well to advanced problems…which it can’t handle.
  • Squeezed labor markets—The rush to add AI created a talent gap. The workers who know how to incorporate AI correctly have been snatched up, leaving a tide of relative amateurs in their wake.

Do any of these problems sound like appealing solutions you’d want to introduce to your business? Probably not!

And there’s no reason to because the biggest promise of IVR and AI customer service is built on a misconception—the idea that human customer service is “too expensive.” That simply isn’t true. The trick is just knowing how to do it right!

The upsides of cost-effective human customer service

Having a team of full-time employees providing customer service may not be cost-effective unless you’re running a mega-corporation. But what about a virtual team of on-call customer service reps, funded via flexible, scalable pay-as-you-go packages?

“Okay, now we’re talking!!” That’s what most of our 14,000+ clients said when they first learned about Ruby’s virtual receptionist services.

For 20 years, Ruby has provided affordable, outsourced customer service to companies of all shapes and sizes, in virtually every industry imaginable. With millions of calls under our belt, trust us when we say, “People want to talk to other people!”

And yes, that can be done in a cost-effective fashion, no matter what your budget looks like.

Kicking the IVR habit

Addicted to IVR? It happens…but it’s a habit your business needs to drop if you want to improve your customer service experiences and start building better brand loyalty.

Everyone knows there’s nothing more impersonal than being greeted on the phone by a recording. In the history of business, no customer has ever been impressed by hearing “Press one to speak to so-and-so.” That’s a subpar experience and it doesn’t have to happen.

Imagine instead a brave new world where your customers call and are instantly greeted by a professional, pleasant-voiced, fellow human being! Someone who’s ready and eager to answer all their questions (using the data you provide us ahead of time).

Does that seem like a fantasy? If so, allow us to make that dream come true for you. It’s easier—and more affordable—than you might think!

Exercise caution with chatbots

Everyone’s itching to try AI and we don’t blame them for that curiosity.

But some of the technologies out there are so cutting-edge, it’s scary. Literally.

From cyberstalking users to exhibiting other menacing behaviors, AI’s current level of unpredictability doesn’t exactly convey the sense of security you want when it comes to outsourcing customer service.

We’re not saying to avoid chatbots entirely. But would you rather trust your business’s reputation to a skilled professional trained by the world’s industry leader in virtual customer service…or trust a few lines of computer code written by an anonymous stranger?

We say, “Choose wisely!”

Bots can be useful for very simple, repetitive tasks. But for anything beyond the basics, experience tells us you need your customers connecting to a real person.

Join the resistance!

If you’ve been worried that humans are at risk of being replaced by customer service technology—don’t be!

From what we’ve seen at Ruby, we’d argue that while the experiment is ongoing, the resistance is strong. Too many customers prefer live interactions. Savvy businesses are picking up on that, and with Ruby on your team, you now have a way to give customers what they want at a price that fits your budget.

In other words, yes, the era of human customer service is coming back! To learn more about this amazing resurgence, download our free ebook, X-pectation files: The truth about small business customers!

Inside, we explore the hottest topics in customer service today, such as:

Is the phone call dead? (Hint: It’s very much alive and well!)

Will customers pay more for better customer service? (Hint: Heck yeah! And research proves it!)

Can one bad experience make you lose a customer forever? (Download to find out!)

…and much more!

We make it easy for your callers and website visitors to get the level of personalized customer service they demand, 24/7, 365 days a year. Reach out today to learn how to put the Ruby team to work for you!

We make it easy for your callers and website visitors to get the level of personalized customer service they demand, 24/7, 365 days a year. Reach out today to learn how to put the Ruby team to work for you!