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Industry Expertise

Technology and Customer Service: Where Do People Come In?


Technology should be complimenting customer service, not replacing it.

Customer relationship management technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning and all of the complimentary tools that come along with these innovations – chatbots, texting apps, automated information systems – are advancing the ability to provide exceptional customer service. But what remains equally as important are people.

Technology has freed up our time, enabling us all to focus on activity requiring human interaction – relationship management and high-touchpoint, strategic communication that need a person. Because of this, the value we all bring – to any organization, no matter individual job function – is elevated. Instead of spending time on rote tasks that can be automated, people are now being put into positions that require problem-solving, solutioning – and, relationships.

While some industries are still in the early phases of adoption, others have automated their processes with these emerging forms of technology – and they’re starting to reach the edge of their limitations. One of these areas is in customer service.

In Microsoft’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service survey, which polled 5,000 individuals across Brazil, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and the United States, results confirmed that customer service remains a cornerstone of customer experience. In fact, 95 percent of survey respondents indicated that customer service is important to their choice of and loyalty to a brand. Where most are missing the mark, however, is in their interpretation of customer expectations. In my experience, people expect a swift response, but not at the sacrifice of value.

A great example of technology-enabled customer service, and where people power is still needed, is in the hospitality scenarios TEDx and keynote speaker Raja Jamalamadaka detailed in his article, Customer service is an attitude not a department or a job title. The brief synopsis of Raja’s article is that there are two hotel receptionists, one who uses technology to optimize the check-in experience and the other who operates rigidly and to the confines of the computer software he’s using. The missed opportunity, of course, is that the one receptionist uses technology as an excuse to be curt and systematic instead of equipped and more human.

I loved these lines most from the article:

“That is the challenge with people’s understanding of technology. Humans are meant to be valued while technology is meant to be used to meet human goals. Unfortunately, people are valuing technology and processes while using humans to meet technology targets.”


“Processes and analytics exist to complement human touch and judgment, not to replace them.”

In my own business, as I’m sure is the case in most, there is an obvious opportunity to automate more – to optimize and create more operational efficiencies by adopting more and new technology. But I also know this to be true: people do business with people they like and who they trust. Relationships might get their start through a form of technology, but they most certainly are not sustained by it. It’s important to keep the human in human capital, and to equip our workforces with tools and technology that make us better people and better able to connect with our clients, our prospects and with each other.

Today’s Top CRMs

Customer relationship management software continues to sophisticate and ‘get smarter’ based on our increasing use of it.

Being in the business we’re in – providing staff augmentation and advisory services to mid- to large-sized enterprises in need of domain expertise – we’re at the forefront of a lot of these implementations, upgrades and the conversations about which platforms to switch to and from.

Of the project work we’ve done so far this year, these are the top five CRMs today’s leading companies are using:

The organizations that strike the right balance between people and technology will prove to be the most successful in the long run. It’s not about replacing one with the other, but about systematically – and thoughtfully – determining where the limitations of one exist and where the benefits of the other picks back up.