Humanising Complex Customer Communication

Posted by Gabriel O'Brien | 27-Jan-2022 17:19:13

Over the last 20 years, organisations have channelled their energy, focus and resources into building digital-first customer and user experiences. Meanwhile, the pandemic, by fundamentally altering the nature of customer interactions, has cemented the place of digital self-service, automation and personalised tech stacks within the customer experience journey. In this sense, organisations are positioned, better than ever before, to deliver flawless customer experience through a digital-first approach.

But what happens when a chatbot lets a customer down or their problem is too complex for self-service? These important humanised interactions, fundamental to reaching solutions and maintaining brand loyalty, are left to burnt out and ill equipped service providers. Over a breakfast cuppa, Nimbus Ninety, in partnership with Sabio, brought members together from across the community to break down these interactions and explore how technology could provide the solution to complex humanised services.


Nimbus Ninety members first heard from James Hughes, Group Head of Propositions at Sabio. James mapped out how exponential digital transformation within CX is directly linked to the problems facing service agents today. At its core, the success of digital self service means that those customer interactions that require human service are complex, often highly emotional and difficult to solve. Service providers, compared with 5/10 years ago, are getting burnt out by being on the phone for longer, under greater pressure and making high-stake decisions. Importantly, service provider “burnout” has many suggesting that customer attrition rates, currently around 22%, could soon reach and exceed an all time high of 30%, seen in 2006.

Given what James said, Stuart Dorman, Chief Innovation Officer at Sabio provided members with what solutions to this problem might look like. Stuart suggested that contemporary digital-first orientated customer service has failed to recognise the need to harmonise tech and people. Too much focus has been placed on how technology can be used to achieve a digital happy path and not how tech can be used to empower human service providers to make better decisions when digital CX goes wrong. For instance, in humanised services, AI solutions could listen in on conversations and provide service providers with the tools, i.e. data and information, to solve problems. Here, organisations are more likely to hold onto their customers and, as such, increase the return on investment of the digital first approach mentioned above.



Members then broke out into discussion groups. The key takeaways were:

1. Understand the Customer

All three discussion groups agreed that enabling service providers to truly understand the customer is key to successful humanised services. One member shared that his organisation found that 20% of customer/client interactions are problematic and that, in particular, the lack of customer information and data was to blame for this. Another member complemented this by suggesting that once an organisation has sufficient information it is more about connecting, prioritising and organising this information to identify the value streams for service providers. For other members, understanding the customer meant recognising that personal preference plays a big part, some customers (young, old, male or female) just prefer to speak to a provider. This basic information is just as important as any complex dataset.

2. Balance the human and the digital

An interesting area of debate across discussion groups emerged around the balance between human and digital customer interactions. Given fundamental change as a result of the pandemic, members were interested in where the line would be drawn between those interactions that happen between service advisor and customer and those which happen digitally. Here, members suggested that this decision depends on the complexity of the problem. For instance, a missing lego piece requires a vastly different process and solution to a faulty jet engine. 

3. Timing is key

A different discussion group emphasised the importance of when a customer falls out of the automation process. It is at that moment that the provider has to be equipped with information and be ready to help because this is the time when the customer is unhappy. Members also mentioned the importance of providing frictionless change between digital and human customer experiences. As such, harmonising tech around humanised customer interactions is only useful if it is able to help service providers at the right time.

4. Choose the right channel

Members also explored the effectiveness of different channels within the customer journey, ranging from chatbots to internal customer communications. One member described how their organisation carried out in-depth analysis of all of its channels. Interestingly, they found that the most effective channels, those which led to the most productive outcomes for customers, were not necessarily those channels chosen by customers.  


This event was held in partnership with Sabio. Have a look at our upcoming events here.


Topics: Event reports

Written by Gabriel O'Brien

Gabriel works with the Editorial team to seek out the disruptors who are leading the change in their industry. He explores the emerging trends in the business and tech world, and creates content for our community of disruptive leaders.

Leave a Comment