Customer experience

Why we want exceptional human service, not AI

- May 23, 2024 3 MIN READ
robot customer service

Imagine you’re on hold for some assistance. Your only lifeline is a robotic voice stating, ‘Your call is important to us, please hold’. You finally connect, only to realise you’re speaking to a perfectly balanced and precise AI-generated voice. It doesn’t ask you how your day was; it’s devoid of empathy. We’ve all been there, frustrated and shouting at an automated system. Customer service expert Jaquie Scammell, award-winning author of The Future of Service is 5DService Habits and Service Mindset says forget AI, human service can take a business to new heights.

Now, you’re standing in a physical queue, greeted by Sarah, a human employee. She seems distracted, and her interactions are robotic in their predictability. She rattles off a script of instructions, never truly engaging with you. Despite being served by a human, you feel just as isolated as you did listening to the robotic voice on the phone.

The two experiences may leave you pondering: ‘When did human service become almost indistinguishable from being served by a machine?’ We’ve never been more connected, yet human service feels more distant than ever.

What is good service?

Employees offering average service don’t offer a point of difference or a unique value proposition compared to a robot who can offer the same average service.

I’ve heard it said that AI is already as good as the average doctor at providing diagnoses, as good as the average lawyer at weighing up probability and risk, and as good as any average worker at knowledge work such as information synthesising and processing. It’s even as good as the average management consultant in a business setting. But who wants average?

I want to live in a world where there are more experiences of extraordinary service and more moments of WOW, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Do you? Wouldn’t you like to live in a world where you’re constantly delivered moments of WOW, as opposed to average?

A human touch

Think of the last time you were wowed. It doesn’t need to involve an expensive, dramatic effort – it could be something very simple and small that delivers the unexpected. For example:

  • I went to a café for the first time, gave my name for my coffee order and the next day I returned and the barista remembered my name: WOW.
  • I called a telco to inquire about a phone bill. The employee told me she would call me back later that afternoon, and WOW, they not only called me back but also resolved my issue.
  • I put my car in for a service and chatted with the mechanic about the crazy busy week I’d had. When I returned the next day to collect my car, I found that the mechanic had left a handwritten note on the dash, saying that they’d given my car a detail clean to make my week feel a little less crazy busy. WOW.

These are moments that only a human being can create – moments that exceed ‘average’ because the human being providing the service was paying attention, listening, and chose to offer a gesture of service that was exceptional and created some emotional connection.

Perhaps generative AI will become better than average the more it learns and retains knowledge. Still, knowledge isn’t enough to create extraordinary service interactions. Most would say that that requires wisdom gathered from day-to-day experiences, and that we reach a state of ‘being wise’.

Wisdom is the sophisticated ‘science’ needed in service – experience through the lens of humanity, from the heart, combined with the practical ability to make consistently good decisions in service interactions.

Our creativity, innovation and genius come from wisdom: from the application of knowledge, discernment and perspective. In service interactions, a robot or machine may ‘know’ what to say, but a human being (the greatest technology) will have the wisdom to know when and how to say it.

Forget about ‘average’ – let’s continue to strive for extraordinary and to create moments of WOW.

This post first appeared on Kochie’s Business Builders. You can read the original here.


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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"