by Divina Paredes

What ANZ customers want: Improve digital services, but ‘retain the human element’

Nov 14, 2016
Big DataCareersCloud Computing

Concerns about trust have risen over the past year, so organisations must be transparent on how they collect and use their customers’ data or risk breaking their trust.

A new global survey reveals a noticeable disconnect between the investment decisions of Australian and New Zealand companies and their customers’ wants and needs.

The survey finds majority of organisations are investing more in digital communication channels than traditional human-based customer service channels. Yet, the latter remains the preferred method of contact by most customers.

There is, it says, “a resounding call for a human element to remain”.

Given that millennials are the long-term customers of the future, it makes sense that digital channels are implemented to appeal to them, according to Verint, which sponsored the survey, with support from IDC and Opinium Research.

But while digital opens the door to new customers and allows organisations to automate elements of the customer experience, the report notes a human touch and personalised service is key to loyal and ongoing customer relationships.

The customer branch, store and contact centre will continue to play a key role for some time to come, the report states.

For instance, the vast majority (87 per cent) of customers in the region believe that speaking to a customer service representative on the phone or in store will always be important.

This is because, ultimately, humans are able to process many pieces of information at once, according to the report. They are able to manage requests with broad parameters, while picking up on nonverbal cues and displaying empathy and emotional intelligence.

Nearly two thirds (67 per cent) of customers in the region say they believe it is more convenient and they get better service when engaging with organisations on the phone or in store.

Additionally, 72 per cent of consumers are likely to negotiate a better deal when they engage with a service provider over the phone or in store.

“Often the switch to digital methods is motivated by a desire to be ahead of the curve, drive workforce optimisation and workplace efficiency, although our report shows that this can come at price if not managed carefully,” says Michael Stelzer, vice president for Australia and New Zealand, Verint.

“There is a need for digital communication, making it a challenge for companies to strike a balance between investing in the human touch and digital channels that deliver a great customer experience.”

On ways organisations successfully manage their customers’ journey, the report cites the importance of listening to customers.

“Companies need to understand which channels their customer groups prefer to use and at which point of the customer journey they wish to use them,” it says. “By putting a voice of the customer strategy in place, organisations can understand what customers require and offer the appropriate digital or human customer service to meet their needs.”

Finally, there is also the issue of trust.

Customers now want personalised service. But for organisations to effectively provide this, they must collect and analyse pertinent customer data.

Concerns about trust have risen over the past year, so organisations must be transparent on how they collect and use their customers’ data or risk breaking their trust.

The report says adding new, more secure and faster authentication processes, such as biometrics, can help.

Verint says the survey The Digital Tipping Point: How do Organisations in Australia and New Zealand Balance the Demands for Digital and Human Customer Service? was conducted online among 24,001 consumers in the following countries: Australia (2,000), Brazil (2,000), India (2,000), France (2,000), Germany (2,000), Japan (2,000), Mexico (2,000), Netherlands (2,000), New Zealand (2,000), South Africa (2,000), UK (2,001) and US (2,000).

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