Automation has been around for decades, but new advancements have made it more accessible to
small business owners in recent years. Now, business owners can use automated technology to
replace many of the repetitive tasks that once ate up their precious time and money.
Anyone who owns a business will rejoice at the thought of spending less time on the more
mundane tasks, but there is one area where it would not be wise to rely too heavily on
When it comes to your customer support, there is still a clear need for the human element. Your
automated software can handle many things but be careful when it comes to handling your
customer’s complaints and solving their most pressing issues.
Before you let automation handle all of your customer’s problems, take a look at why your
customer service still needs the human touch:
#1: Humans Inspire Trust
If you’re a business owner, you know how important it is to earn your customer’s trust. That’s
why your site has trust signals and doesn’t go overboard asking customers to fill out forms
Automated services can be helpful for answering consumer questions, but they can’t persuade a
customer who isn’t yet sold on making a purchase. In this case, talking with a human custom
support team is more likely to inspire trust and convert potential customers.
#2: Automation Can Only Handle Simple Tasks
Automated technology has grown so much in the last few years that it has pervaded most aspects
of eCommerce. From marketing automation software to cloud-based automation, it has already
changed how we do business online.
However, when it comes to customer service, automation can only do so much. When customers
have complex questions, automation isn’t going to be very helpful. Until we develop technology
that can handle greater complexity, humans will still need to maintain those interactions.
#3: Automation Can’t Directly Build Relationships
The relationships that you build with your customers are key to retaining loyal customers and
driving sales. The problem with automated customer service is that it can’t directly build these
However, it can lay the foundation for building relationships with them. With an effective
automation software solution, you can gather important customer data that helps you connect
with them and build relationships. Automation can give you the first introduction, but you need
the human touch to progress your customer relationships.
#4: Humans Help Create Memorable Experiences
Can you remember the last time a feel-good story involving automated customer service went
viral? That’s because it’s never happened. The best customer service stories are the ones that
involved humans who did something exceptional for their customers.
Maybe they went above and beyond for a customer, or perhaps they had a brilliant response to a
comment on their Facebook wall (anyone remember Jen from Skyscanner?). The point is that our
technology is nowhere near being able to replicate the ingenuity of humans.
#5: Automation Can’t Empathize
One of the biggest issues when it comes to automated customer support is that it lacks the ability
to empathize with customers. Your customers want to know that you care about them. They want
to know that you understand how they’re feeling.
Technology doesn’t care, and people know this. A human can empathize and talk a customer
down from leaving their business for good.
#6: Unique Problems Call for Unique Solutions
Automated customer service is perfect for everyday situations, but what happens when a unique
situation arises? Your technology may be able to handle some generic customer service issues,
but, at the end of the day, it can’t solve some of the unique problems that customers face. For
this, a human is needed to step in and come up with a solution that will resolve the issue and
satisfy the customer.
#7: Humans Give Your Business a Friendly Face
Many eCommerce stores already struggle to humanize their business and automated customer
service doesn’t help this fix this problem. Customers that see the human side of your business are
more likely to develop brand loyalty, give you amazing reviews, and talk about your business to
In many cases, a customer’s first human interaction with a business is with their customer
support team. Seeing an automated response isn’t going to inspire much brand loyalty, but a
memorable human face will have a much better shot at doing so.
#8: Your Customers Probably Prefer Humans to Automation
You would think that in today’s digital world, customers would be fine with automated customer
service. However, there is plenty of evidence that suggests otherwise.
One recent study found that out of the 24,000 consumers surveyed, 83 percent of them preferred
human customer service interactions to digital alternatives. What’s more, the same report found
that those who received more human customer service interactions displayed more positive
behaviors toward brands.
Call it old-fashioned, if you want, but it’s clear that there is still a need for the human element in
customer service. Automation can help handle some aspects of customer service, but it can’t
fully replace humans just yet.
#9: Automation Is a Tool—Not a Substitute
If there is one key takeaway from this post, it’s this: the best customer support is one that has
successfully mixed human interaction and automated technology into their strategies. When
automation is used as a supplement—not a replacement—to human interaction, the customer
With automation, you can often get the desired results much faster than you can with humans.
No more waiting for a business to finally get around to your query because they’ve been backed
up answering the same question from hundreds of other customers.
Consumers, especially millennials, love getting results in real-time. They also crave that
personalized, human interaction. It’s a tough challenge and the stakes are high for 2017, but
don’t let that scare you. Achieve the right balance between automation and human interactionand you can provide customers with the best possible experience.
Erika is the Chief Marketing Officer at Springbot where she leads all brand,
product, marketing campaigns and communications. Before joining
Springbot, Erika was the vice president of product strategy for Oracle, the
vice president of marketing and communications at Vitrue, and other
executive-level marketing positions at leading technology companies like
MindSpring, Earthlink and Rackspace. In her limited free time, you’ll find
Erika running through Atlanta with her yellow labrador Sunny or sharing
marketing insights on Twitter @ebrookes.