The Parts of Customer Service That Should Never Be Automated

HBR - The Parts of Customer Service That Should Never Be Automated

Managers using forms of automation and others cite customer satisfaction benefits from increased convenience and customization, and from giving customers more control over their own experiences. They also tout cost savings — a tempting proposition against a backdrop of rising labor costs.


So is the levitating Barcalounger inevitable? Hardly.


For starters, the economics of service automation aren’t universally rosy. When a nationwide retail bank introduced online banking, customers who adopted it increased their total transaction volume and began visiting and calling the bank more, increasing costs and decreasing overall profitability. Similar dynamics can be observed in health care. Patients who adopted e-visits, for example, actually began showing up at the doctor’s office twice as often. One explanation for this pattern is that current technology is functionally limited, requiring people to seek out in-person help in addition to using automated services. But as innovation progresses, functional limitations are bound to fall by the wayside.


Topics in this report

1. Service can be emotional; technology cannot.

2. We still prefer having people help solve our problems.

3. Less work for employees often means more work for customers.

successful innovations are likely to:

  • Automate transactional interactions, while facilitating human connections
  • Support employees without getting in their way.
  • Enhance customer and employee engagement.
  • Engage customers in ways that won’t make human service providers cringe.


source: Harvard Business Review

Language: English
Read more
Authors: Docent Ecommerce

Document type: Research Study

Publication date: 19-02-2018

Number of pages: 5

Share this report