Why White-Glove Treatment Remains Essential to Customer Success

As conversational artificial intelligence in customer service continues to gain traction and ChatGPT makes waves across industries, research from Gartner projects that one in 10 customer service agent interactions will be automated by 2026. While chatbots and self-service assistance in customer care are on the rise, an appetite for human connection and guidance remains steady, particularly when onboarding and implementing a new technology. A white-glove deployment experience, characterized by on-demand support, prioritizing client needs, caring about their success, and personalizing the customer journey, is still critical to customer experience.

While AI has proven its ability to unlock efficiencies across the enterprise, in customer service, it is crucial to strike the right balance between AI and white-glove service. Even as hype around ChatGPT escalates, people continue to report concerns about chatbots being unable to answer complex questions and providing answers that aren't useful or accurate.

Chatbots are useful for improving the bottom line for companies by reducing costs and easing agent workloads, but when it comes to building an initial rapport with the customer, a human-touch is vital. In a crowded landscape for business solutions serving small to mid-sized companies, personalized care, especially during the upfront deployment process, can be the differentiator that ensures ongoing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Solution providers can follow a three-step approach to maximize the benefits of offering both white-glove customer service during the deployment process and AI tools for ongoing support:

1. Configure the solution to meet customers' unique needs.

As companies move away from one-size-fits-all software and seek solutions that offer greater control and configurability, it's important to work closely with customers to understand their unique needs when deploying new products or services. Customizing your solution to fit customers' processes and workflow is a critical first step in laying the groundwork for future ease of use.

Make the process as simple as possible for customers by using experienced deployment managers and supporting upfront customization at no additional cost. As part of this process, deployment managers can build relationships with customers by recommending relevant best practices that enable them to receive sustained value from the solutions.

Plan to spend between one and four weeks with customers in the configuration phase, but keep their time commitment to a minimum. The customers' time spent gathering the initial details needed for configuration (think user lists, policy rules, custom fields, etc.) should ideally take a matter of hours, not days. The onus is on the solution provider to ensure that the configuration process goes smoothly. Lead with human support and supplement with AI to provide in-depth attention to customers at this stage.

2. Rollout the solution with user-friendly training.

After the initial configuration is complete, user-friendly training is critical to building confidence and empowering customers with the solution. Live or on-demand training tools tailored to each role help ensure users get up to speed quickly. Additionally, offering a library of training materials, success guides, feature updates, and other helpful resources can further bolster confidence.

Having a variety of training options gives users a chance to familiarize themselves with the solution at their own pace. Users who are set up for success upfront are less likely to need intensive support in the future, and when they have a firm grasp of the solution, they can also help coworkers who might need assistance.

A seasoned customer service expert can ensure customers have all the resources they need and can tailor roll-out to support each organization, while AI can be leveraged to help users find answers to quick questions and supplement ongoing learning.

3. Demonstrate value and build customer confidence.

Helping customers through at least one cycle will ensure there is active engagement between them and their support teams and allows for necessary adjustments in real time. The first month of roll-out is a learning process; customers can begin to see the solution in action and help identify areas that need fine-tuning.

Once the deployment process is complete, it is best practice to assign a dedicated account manager to assist with ongoing support as needed. Customers should be well equipped at this stage to take full advantage of self-service capabilities and AI, but they should always know that a real person is available should they need assistance.

Excellent customer service with a human touch is something AI can streamline, but will never replace. It's important that organizations embracing AI for customer service don't forget the power of dedicated human support when it matters most. The deployment process is designed to build confidence and set customers up for success so that in the future they rely less on support agents and can feel comfortable using self-service or AI tools. Striking this balance between human support and AI will save solution providers money in the long run, helping to lower costs while also ensuring that customers feel confident, satisfied, and adequately supported.

Maureen Riordan Rhodes is chief revenue officer of Center, an employee spend management company.