Staying human in a digital world

By 2020 it is estimated that at least 50% of the workforce will be millennials who are tech savvy individuals and operate quite differently from generations before. They have never known a world without computers or the internet and see digitization as an advantage. They embrace technology and are to a large degree driving its implementation. Already AI systems are being incorporated into many aspects of businesses including data analytics and customer service. Does this mean that in the future the remainder of the workforce will be made up of robots?

As technology gets more deeply integrated in our daily lives and in business operations, many people are asking the questions; what does the future of work look like? What impact will technology have on organizational cultures, customer behaviour and people interactions? And how can these technologies be used to enhance business operations and customer experiences?

The Impact of Technology

Technology brings with it many advantages and opportunities if it is implemented in a way that seeks to complement and enhance the workforce rather than simply replace it. There are many tasks that robots can complete with greater efficiency and accuracy than humans, but there are also other tasks in which humans simply cannot be replaced. Customers may enjoy the efficiency offered by technology, but when there’s a glitch that they cannot resolve themselves, more often than not they reach out to another human to help them.

The impact of technology and its changing effect on the marketplace is something that businesses will need to adapt to. And keeping the human element in this increasingly digital world is going to be vital if businesses hope to create better employee engagement and customer experiences.

The working environment is rapidly changing as technology becomes more affordable, more advanced and more personal.  Customers expect better accessibility to information, products and services and because they know the data is freely available, they want all of that with a personal touch.  For employees there is an increased level of complexity, but therein lies the opportunity. Technology can help in finding more efficient ways to do things.

Organizational culture and technology

Most customers can relate to the frustration of trying to get a query resolved, but instead of being able to speak to someone, they just getting through to one automated response after another. It’s exactly the type of customer experience that businesses want to avoid, yet it happens more often than not.

Technology may offer many advantages to make the customer experience more efficient like using call routing systems and webchat etc, but none of them can replace a human voice on the other end of the line. A voice that can not only understand what the customer is asking for, but also be able to respond with empathy and adapt according to the emotion in the customer’s voice, showing them that someone cares.

Culture is most authentic when it flows naturally from an organization and when there is a similar culture of caring within the organization. This is generated when there is a healthy level of people interaction, not only online but also face to face. In organizations where employee engagement is actively promoted, there is a distinctive energy to be found. The spin-off is a work environment that encourages creativity and innovation and becomes a place where people love to work. (And customer love to buy.)

Finding the digital fit

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses today and into the future will be to find the balance between digital technology and human resources, while at the same time finding ways in which technology can enhance organizational abilities.

A good start is to consider how technology can empower employees. Like flexi-hours and working from home options, allowing employees to work from a home base or even a coffee shop. With widespread internet connectivity this is possible and the flexibility may even improve productivity. It empowers employees to be more responsible with their time and more efficient with their work efforts.

This flexibility can also enable businesses to be more responsive to customer queries. Instead of having to staff a call centre 24/7 and employees having to come into work, they can simply login online wherever they are and respond to customer queries.  Webchat systems can be set up so that staff can respond via mobile devices, giving them even greater flexibility and responsiveness.

Based on current trends it is predicted that customer expectations will continue to escalate and in order to respond, businesses will need to create strategies to become more agile and use technology to their advantage. Ultimately it comes down to understanding what’s most important to your customers and employees and then finding ways to use technology innovatively to fill the gap in order to deliver on those expectations.

Are you digitally ready? What else should you be thinking about? And are you thinking employee as well as customer?  Contact Ember to consider these ongoing challenges and help your organisation become digitally ready. Ember can help you identify the optimum mix of contact channels and approaches to allow you to deliver a compelling customer experience, boost profitability and realise the cost benefits that inevitably follow when customers can find what they need easily, without recourse to your contact centre.