Thursday, May 14, 2015

100% Response Rate: Why Automation Will Never Replace a Human Touch

I mandate a 100% human response rate to our customer’s questions and complaints. This is across all digital properties and includes: social, email, blog and review sites.

Maybe it’s my Midwestern upbringing where I learned to write hand written thank you cards from the age of five. Or maybe it’s because the power of a human interaction will win every time.

Think about your most recent purchase – one delightful and one disgruntled. What separates the delightful from the disgruntled is a human. A human that chose to connect on a personal level. A human that chose to go off script. A human that chose to use common sense. A human that chose to admit the mistake.

Companies that are winning, big or small, empower humans to interact with their customers. A recent study found the telephone is the preferred method for 88 percent of people seeking to resolve customer service issues, suggesting that real-life interactions are still paramount to customer satisfaction.

We maintain our 100% human response rate by using a three step triage approach. The medium varies from a digital post to a phone call to an email to snail mail.
  1. Our social team handles most of our customer’s questions.
  2. If a question needs a more technical answer, we pull in and introduce our scientific medical team.
  3. Any complaint gets a personal touch by our CEO. And as important, advocates get a personal touch by our CEO.
The most important part of being human is to admit a mistake. It’s actually quite simple. And it’s one of the things most companies miss. I am delighted every time my Starbuck’s barista gives me a free drink coupon. And 99% of the time, I’m not expecting it. Starbuck’s knows getting your order right and quickly is a premium. They've empowered their employees to ensure customers know this is their priority. I don’t go to Starbucks for the quality of their coffee. I go to Starbucks for the consistency. The consistency of product and baristas.

As companies scale, they replace human with automation. The mistake is not automation. The mistake is not putting a human in charge of deciding when to automate. There is no human behavior that can be predicted by an algorithm. Invest in the headcount that will tell the machine what to do. 

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