Keeping the Human Element in Digital CX

The long-standing foundations of many consumer-facing businesses (such as banking, for example) are built on personal, face-to-face relationships. Today, though, customer engagement is becoming increasingly self-serviced and transactional. People need to get things done while on the go, and companies need to get more done with fewer resources.

With that said, in the age of Twitter and chatbots, can modern businesses realistically ensure the continuity of this core value of personal relationships into the digital, mobile era? Do people still desire interactions, when tapping and swiping just feels so good?

Absolutely! According to a recent survey from InContact, 67 percent of consumers prefer agent-assisted customer service. Only 39 percent of respondents were satisfied with their experiences when working through self-service channels.

If that is the case, then are companies being forced to deploy transactional self-service tools in the name of efficiency, even though their customer experience might feel faceless and/or anonymous as a result?

Not necessarily. According to research from Dimension Data, nearly one-third of contact centers expect to deploy video chat for customer engagement. The research says that giving customers the additional option to remotely connect face-to-face, at moments that are important to them (and on their terms), can make their customer experiences even more powerful. For example, bank customers or credit union members today might not feel the need to be face-to-face with an employee in the event of a fraudulent transaction appearing on their card. However, in the event of a major financial milestone (like planning for college, launching a small business, or buying a home), people want to be one-on-one with another human being. Core values should not have to change because the way we work has changed.

Furthermore, all kinds of companies today are going above and beyond to create highly differentiated customer experiences to elevate their brands and encourage customer loyalty. A stronger emphasis is being placed on pushing the boundaries of CX than ever before. For internet giants like Amazon, this can manifest itself as introducing a physical element to their brand with brick-and-mortar storefronts. For large banks with millions of customers (and mazes of frustrating, impersonal digital options and voice response systems), it can be something as simple as making it really painless to get a little bit of facetime with another human being when there's an urgent matter at hand.

Time is the new currency for customers who are looking for painless and informed solutions to their issues. We are also starting, growing, and running companies in an "attention economy," which is defined by the view that human attention is a scarce commodity. By 2018, according to research from Gartner, more than 100 out of the 500 largest global businesses will have implemented video chat. Digital transformation does not mean that Twitter avatars and chatbots (although they are driven by increasingly intelligent knowledge bases) must fully take the place of actual humans speaking to other humans, even for companies that could have millions of users.

You're probably wondering what has changed, from a business and technology perspective, that can now let us have the best of both worlds? I can say from personal experience that the recent proliferation of API platforms is making it much more possible today for companies of all sizes to keep the human element in digital CX, if they make the choice to do so.

Whether they are Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, or Millennials, customers do not like to feel anonymous, or that the companies they are supporting are unnecessarily faceless in a time when we have so much incredible technology that gives us a ton of access to anything (and anyone). Again, leading companies today are increasingly seeing that special, attentive customer experiences can be a key differentiator, in a time when it might be more difficult for people to see what makes one bank or credit union different than another. Keeping the human element in digital CX can give your customers a sense of inclusion and transparency that they can genuinely appreciate.

Eran Westman is CEO of integrated video collaboration technology provider Vidyo.