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Customer Success is not about tech or human touch but about the right touch

By touch I mean the way and frequency of times a customer is touched by representatives of a company, whether by technology (think BOTS, automations, etc.) or a human. I would also argue for less touch as there is a danger of bureaucracy creeping in to this fledgling profession, which comes on top of customer touchpoints that are already cumbersome.

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Bureaucracy is not new and growing. And some of the worst effected areas of a business are in customer service. Take a look at this research published not too long ago in an HBR article: What We Learned About Bureaucracy from 7,000 HBR Readers. I’ve used it twice before in posts to make the argument for less of this pernicious habit and in the context of customer success as well as touchpoints:

Role of Self Service in Customer Success

The Future of Customer Success is Not Human

As you can tell I’m a bit of a grouch on this habit and I say habit because as Einstein rightly (and supposedly) identifies:

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

Albert Einstein

If customer service is the overarching field within which customer success falls then it is prone to the same excesses. And the excesses are those of habit where its customary to add to, make more complex, sometimes even to violent effect (when it causes a customer to explode in frustration 💥).

Its okay when you’re a startup and don’t have legacy customer service operations to consider. You can start from a clean slate and keep things simple. But even for startups the habit is to add more and more complexity over time, at least in my experience.

How does it manifest?

As a customer, how many times have you been overwhelmed by saccharine service staff pestering you with offers of help (because that’s the rule or they have to hit a target) when you just want to peruse and think. Online this could be repeated mails to convince you to buy for example.

When, as a customer, have you heard crickets (i.e. no responses), when actually you are desperate for an answer or help to aid a decision. And the answer could be as simple as a BOT replying to a simple question with the right answer.

How about the right (intelligent) response at the right time?

As a customer service professional, have you ever felt over burdened by process, dogma, reporting lines, all seemingly designed to prevent you from serving customers well?

Why tech or human touch are here to stay

I’m unapologetic in my view that tech touch is going to increase as you may have seen from my earlier articles. With artificial intelligence on the rise it just makes sense that automation is going to get better and better at sensing and responding to customers in the right way. It will also make the customer service professionals job easier and more able to focus on the high impact and necessary human touch aspects.

Because nothing can take the place of a human touch, especially in sensitive situations. Both my articles strongly argue that there will never be a replacement by one of the other. Rather a harmonious symbiotic relationship.

The right touch is one where the balance between tech and human is achieved but most importantly, just enough touch is in place by design that avoids complexity and bureaucracy.

Design and the disconnect between the centre and the field

It’s easy for someone at HQ to design an experience journey or orchestration maps with multiple touchpoints when they don’t have to work with it. They don’t feel the impact of their design like the customer or customer service professional does.

Far better for someone in the field to be the designer in my view. They are the ones that work with customers and get the immediate feedback of what is working and what isn’t.

They are the ones that will feel the pain of complexity at every step and work hard to avoid it.

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