In the 1980s, ATMs started to become widespread in banks across the country. Bank customers didn’t have to go up to the counter or interact with a human being at all in order to make a deposit or withdrawal, and tellers were worried. They thought ATMs would replace them, making their jobs unnecessary and at risk.
In fact, the opposite happened. The ATMs freed up tellers from the tedious and repetitive job of counting cash for a long line of customers on payday, giving them more time to spend on other, more important tasks. Customers who only wanted a withdrawal didn’t need to come to the counter, reducing lines and giving tellers more time to interact with each customer. The cost of running a bank branch dropped, so banks opened more branches and hired even more people.
In the end, ATMs didn’t replace tellers — they actually made tellers more valuable. With a new ability to focus on human interaction, tellers became better at the most crucial aspect of their role – helping customers and meeting their needs.
Today, “automation” is a dirty word to a lot of people. When it comes to the way companies interact with their customers, automation brings to mind endless phone menus, chatbots, and formulaic email responses that don’t actually solve your problems.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right applications, automation can be a powerful tool to help Customer Success teams do their jobs quickly, efficiently, and with just the right amount of human interaction to keep customers delighted.
People Use Emotion as Well as Logic to Make Decisions
If your customers were robots, their satisfaction with your product would be derived exclusively from the value they derive from it, measured in purely analytical, quantitative terms. But people aren’t robots, and they don’t think like robots either.
Brace yourself: people take emotion into account when making business decisions or assessing their relationships with existing products. It’s not just about what the product does for them — it’s about how the product makes them feel. Human interaction is inherently more emotionally rewarding (airport security lines aside).
Neuroscientific studies back up this idea with three main findings. First, people tend to show “mutually rewarding” behaviors when they interact. That means that when two people have a conversation, on the phone or in person, they’re more likely to understand and help each other.
Human interaction also leads to loyalty. Interacting with a real person is how you build a relationship, get to know someone, and establish trust. That goes for customer interactions with the companies they patronize, too — having a real conversation with a real person leads to trust and loyalty.
Finally, artificial intelligence and automated systems aren’t ready to replace human interaction — at least not yet. Voice assistants like Google, Siri, and Alexa can handle basic question-and-answer interactions like “when does the grocery store close?” but true human interaction simply can’t be (and in our opinion, shouldn’t be) replaced.
How Automation Makes Human Interaction Better
So if automation isn’t ready to take over, but it’s not going away, how do you work it into a Customer Success strategy that works for everyone?
First, use automation to take care of mundane tasks that don’t require any human creativity. For example, every time someone purchases your product, you probably send them an email thanking them for their purchase and guiding them on how to get started. There’s no human touch required in the act of clicking “send” on an email, so that can be left to automation.
Integrate automation and human interaction for complex tasks like onboarding and education — everyone learns differently, and solely relying on an automated string of emails or articles might not suit your customer’s needs. Once you’ve onboarded your customer effectively, continue to use automated tools to send relevant follow-ups, like new product features or usage reports.
You can also use automation to find customers that might benefit from a personal interaction with a CSM. Scrolling through a huge list of customers to find the ones that haven’t logged in or made a purchase recently is a waste of your team’s time, and a Customer Success platform can perform the same task in seconds. Use these platforms to identify customers that have gone quiet, automate messaging based on their usage data, and if needed, alert a human CSM to reach out.
The possibilities for interaction between automation tools and human CS team members are endless. Automated emails can solicit feedback and isolate specific keywords or criticism, then humans can follow up to solve problems. Automation can suggest up-sells and cross-sells based on purchase and usage behavior — Amazon uses this feature extensively — but humans can make personalized recommendations to each customer to help them decide what to buy.