How to hone your human skills in the age of AI
It is somewhat intimidating to imagine what the future of customer service will look like if the AI (artificial intelligence) “bots” take over!
As a small business providing a value-added subscription service to our clients, we continually discuss providing a high level of customer support to clients/users, while integrating technology that can potentially reduce the amount of time required to provide competent help. Ideally, you evaluate these options while also assessing how you can provide more resources to users 24/7.
Here is the reality: AI is a way to have a computer-based program scour a large database of information and respond to questions based on matching key phrases. It does not think for itself, and it does not make decisions based on what is best for the client. It simply aggregates data and provides the most logical answer/response whenever possible.
If you reread the last paragraph, that explanation of AI-based support is not going to close any deals or convince users that the software provider is interested in anything other than simplifying how they deliver help to their clients. So, how do you merge that concept with one that implies a provider of services is sincerely interested in the needs of their clients/users?
“Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.” – Stephen Hawking
In order to convince your clients that you are most interested in providing them with a positive user experience, it becomes imperative to train your support team with some basic “human skills.” Not everyone will need to communicate with a real human, but some will, and for those valued clients, your entire team should develop some basic communication skills.
Some of the fundamental steps in training your team are as follows:
- Emphasize positive listening skills. Many issues can be very simply resolved by making sure to intently listen to your clients’ problems. A great deal of time and energy can end up being wasted if each communication does not first start off with listening to the problems of the client.
- Open-mindedness. If the representative is not open to what they are hearing and consistently trying to push their own agenda, a client will become dissatisfied.
- Patience. As hard as it may be to hear sometimes, “the customer is always right,” and inevitably, you need to be genuine in attempting to resolve any client situations.
- Communicate clearly. A support representative must always clearly explain to their customer what the recommended resolution will be.
- Knowledge of the product. If the customer service person is not entirely familiar with the product they are representing, have someone they can appropriately “escalate” any issues to, should it surpass their personal understanding. Otherwise, they are going to frustrate the client.
- Validate the client. Once a resolution has been reached, a representative must confirm with the client that they are satisfied with the outcome. In some cases, the representative may believe their issue is resolved, but the client may still be frustrated.
- Gratitude for the relationship. By closing with a thanks to the client and offering to help in the future, the client will feel validated and believe you are interested in their welfare.
As simple as these steps may seem, “human skills” are slowly being eliminated by the impersonal nature of online solutions. By training any “outward facing” staff to function with this level of empathy, the company is destined to succeed.
“Your website isn’t the center of your universe. Your Facebook page isn’t the center of your universe. Your mobile app isn’t the center of your universe. The customer is the center of your universe.” – Bruce Ernst