In Defense of Automated Systems (IVR)

As a customer I am always looking for the most painless route to get what I need from companies I do business with. While automated systems can get a bad rap, I have argued for years that automated systems (when built correctly) are usually EASIER than interacting with humans for many routine interactions.  

Last Thursday, I drove to the bank right past the available Tellers and instead waited in line to use the ATM to make the withdrawal I needed. Like you I did this because the Automated Machine is superior to a teller in making a withdrawal of $50 from my checking account. One of the best experiences I have had at a fast food chain occurred at an airport, where I could place my order on a touchscreen, pay and simply wait for my food order to be delivered to me. At the heart of these choices lies a need to utilize the most painless route to interact with companies, this yearn is increasingly being met by smart Machines.

Too many automated systems are built solely for the purpose of cost savings or contact deflection for the companies, and they often deliver those cost Savings by frustrating customers. Even among fellow Customer Experience practitioners Automated Systems have a bad reputation.  Which is why to me the only automated systems worth building are ones customers will voluntarily choose over a human.

Here are 3 reasons why you should build Automated systems that customers prefer to Humans:

  1. Because it will actually increase customer Loyalty. I hate to break it to you, but your customers aren’t really dying to talk to you, what they want is to get their issue resolved via the least painful path. So identifying situations where that path involves more machine than human is exactly what your customers want. Customers are loyal to brands that make things easy and not only is smart automation a key part in that journey in many instances it is superior to human interactions.
  2. Because it will save you Money. Automated systems built to the “easier than human” standard actually have the added benefit of saving you more over the long run. Customers will flock to it, utilization will go up, without the pesky side effect of customer defection
  3. Because it will keep your employees happier. The truth is your employees aren’t stimulated by handling the same routine tasks over and over again. They would actually welcome some varieity coupled with empowerment to fully utilize their skills. If your goal becomes resolving customer issues with as little customer effort as possible, you find that in many cases it is all technology, but in most cases it is a blend as is articulated here in this article

Customers want their issues resolved in the most efficient manner, they do not hate automated systems, they hate bad automated systems. In the same way they do not like unhelpful representatives.

 Can you think of other Automated Systems you prefer to Humans?