The future of customer experience has been sealed, or so many believe. The truth, however, lies somewhere in between what we have in the present and what we wish to make of it. I must underline the fact that the customers do not drop from the heavens above, they are very much a part of the same society that you and I inhabit. Social cues and cultural influences determine their lives and choices just as much as it does ours. Every one of us on this webpage and those who would listen to this article from the record keeper in chief of our times – youtube, are both customers and suppliers. It is just that, what we consume is infinitely bigger in volume and proportion than what we supply for the consumption of others.
Much of what we call customer experience design is actually a process of making peace with this duality. Most of us have the good fortune of having elders in our homes and most of us have also had the opportunity to tend to kids in their formative years. What do we learn from it, each individual is different, and everyone has a different need. When we put the hat of a caregiver on, we do not think about what we had thought would be needed but, what is actually required by those, we have a duty of care towards.
We personalize, don’t we?
We provide them with what they need, in the proportions that they like, at a time of their choosing and in the manner that they find most pleasing.
That my dear friends is customer experience!
Giving the customers what they want!
I won’t insult the intelligence of this august audience by assuming that they are not in agreement with a technology-led future of service. If anything, the dreadful virus has encoded that in each and every one of us, I presume, irreversibly. The business that each one of us reading this article lead deal with the enormous complexity of the market and ever-evolving customer needs and wants.
What does technology do? It is an excellent tool of democratization, it helps in bringing efficient ways of doing things within the reach of the individual consumer. Look at the computers that you’ve in your pocket and the ones on your wrist. Imagine what it can accomplish today, without breaking a sweat. The gains in computing capabilities that the world has witnessed in the last 30 years are unprecedented, courageous, and mind-bogglingly fantastic. We are fast progressing into a world in which digital spaces are going to rival the physical world and beat it comprehensively.
The way behemoths like Meta, Microsoft, Google and Amazon are making progress; we should prepare for a fully digital future, not just a hybrid or a remote world. When we look at the long horizon, we must, however, realize that as much as we would want our world is not egalitarian, in design but hierarchical; rife with economic disparity.
The pace of technological advancement is guided by the ability of the economies to spend, on the enabling infrastructure. High income, developed parts of the world, like Western Europe and North America, and China is ahead in the queue of the rest of the underdeveloped and developing world. This disparity in wealth and growth is the opportunity, that we have to recognise and seize upon. Companies like Freshworks and Zoho, and many others, representatives of some of which are reading this article with you, now – are slowly trying to reverse the equation.
Innovating not just for India but for the world, from here in India – is clearly the theme of the future.
We believe that CX automation does not essentially have to be a tussle between humans and machines. We do not think it will be predicated entirely on ‘efficiency gains’ or guided by the objectives of cost reduction. CX is not about, how many people Vs how many BOT licences.
It is not about tools!
It is about managing the customer journey well. It is about intelligent data play to understand and anticipate customer needs and then reorganise the delivery systems in a manner that presents itself before the customer at the time they desire and at the mode that they enjoy the most transacting on.
There will be voice.
There will be chat.
There will be emails.
And social media is also not going anywhere, at least not in the foreseeable future.
What will change however is the context in which the corporations and the customers exchange with each other. Processes will need to evolve to address the need of the customer at the design level. Follow the data trail to preempt the need; those who succeed will win and win big.
We envisage a future in which man and the machine will come together in a harmonious way to alleviate pain from the customer journey. Structured Algorithms, Machine learning and AI smarts will need the partnership of imaginative problem-solving humans, so in that sense, the man and the machine will co-create our future.
Machines are clearly man’s superior in computing capabilities, they are efficient, fast and also accurate. Goes without saying that it becomes all of those things because a human writes lines of codes.
The man however is not just leaps and bounds but galactic distances ahead of any machine present today or conceived in the most cutting edge laboratories of the world, in matters of empathy, care and imaginative thinking and creative problem-solving.
The smartest BOT will transfer the baton to an agent when it encounters a situation that it was not trained for. The man takes the unknown on, solves for it and then creates a learning path for the machine so that the next occurrence of the newly discovered need could be handled by the soulless machine.
We are by far the most intelligent species in the known and observable universe. Tools are what we create to solve problems. We solve one problem at a time and then hand it to the machine, much like our toaster toasts our bread today because flipping the bread on the pan over a hot stove is not the best use of our time.
So, I say, we should embrace technology with both hands, leave the solved chops for the machine and we should progress to solving the unknown mysteries of our world.
With that I end this article, ladies and gentlemen it is not Man Vs Machine but a Humane machine that will change the world.