Does Too Much Technology Disrupt Interpersonal Communications?

Have you ever gone out to lunch or dinner and noticed that nearly everyone in the restaurant is using his or her smartphones? There’s a good chance that you’ve experienced this exact same situation, as we’ve all been guilty of being a little too attached to technology at some time or another.

But, with that said, technology has become an important part of our lives, helping us connect with others and work more efficiently. But is our addiction to technology disrupting interpersonal communication? According to a recent Harris survey, the answer is “yes.”

According to the survey results, 71 percent of respondents believe technology has improved their quality of their life. However, almost three-quarters of U.S. adults also believe that technology has become too distracting, even millennials (18-35) seem to agree according to the survey.

What’s more, a strong majority of respondents agree that technology is corrupting interpersonal communications (69 percent) and having a negative impact on literacy (59 percent) with these figures highest among baby boomers.

So what do these survey findings mean for contact centers? It’s quite simple; businesses must ensure that they’re maintaining a healthy balance between technology and human interaction.

While self-service technology is great for certain situations—for example, when a customer needs to check on their bill or status of a delivery—others situations call for communication with a live Communicator.

It’s for this reason why it’s extremely important that businesses offer various different communication channels to cater to consumers needs, such as live chat, social media, and telephone service.

While technology has certainly changed the customer care industry, it hasn’t lessened the need for Communicators. There are certain situations in which technology just can’t offer the same quality of customer care and, in these scenarios consumers need the help of a live, experienced Communicator to help solve their problem.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Making the Case for Human Interaction In An Increasingly Robotic World

The phrase, “there is a time and place for everything” couldn’t ring truer when discussing the dilemma modern contact center leaders face when striking an appropriate balance among digital, automated and phone-based customer care support options.

For instance, when consumers are pressed for time, access to digital support might prove most convenient. As well, automated support is great for scheduling appointments or entering credit card information, for example. But when consumers need substantial support to solve a complex inquiry, there is nothing more effective than human interaction.

But let’s face it … digital communication methods are swiftly infiltrating traditional contact center best practices. In fact, research from Dimension Data projects that digital traffic is set to rise in 89 percent of contact centers within the next two years, and voice traffic will drop in 35 percent of contact centers.

Indeed, it would be a shame to see human interaction fade away in favor of auto attendants and self service customer care options. However, contact center leaders must face this challenge head on by learning how to integrate the right communication solutions at the right times and for the most suitable demographics.

After all, it’s just as important to preserve your contact center’s essential live support service delivered by a trained professional as it is to future-proof your business by implementing digital solutions that are currently increasing in popularity.

It’s tricky to achieve, but striking the right balance between automated, digital and phone-based interactions will be instrumental in preserving human interactions in the contact center, here’s why:

  • Consumers need deep support:   Not all inquires can be answered in a live Web chat or by the options listed off by an auto attendant. When your consumers have complex questions to ask verbal communication is the most efficient customer care method. What’s more, many consumers will always prefer human interaction.  As well, miscommunications and misunderstandings, in terms of tone and objective, are bound to occur when too much customer care is dealt with via digital or automated services. As such, contact centers must always provide access to a hotline number if a Web chat goes awry and the consumer needs live support.
  • Multiple avenues are convenient: Providing different methods of communications augments the consumer experience. After all, superior quality of customer care means that consumers can gain 24/7 access to the support platforms that they prefer. When your consumers know that they can access a combination of support methods which suit their preferences and time constraints, they’ll likely be much more satisfied with your overall service.
  • Human interaction cultivates relationships: Today, consumers want to establish trust with the brands they do business with and quality of customer care is at the crux of cultivating such relationships. As such, the best way to truly convey your dedication to providing high quality support for your consumers is to interact with them on a human level. Phone-based customer care engenders more opportunity to connect with consumers by striking up a spontaneous conversation, demonstrating empathy by actively listening to their questions and expressing compassion and trustworthiness through careful word choice and tone of voice.

It’s important to preserve human interaction in customer care support; however, as technology evolves it’s also important to remain relevant with the times.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

Understanding Your Audience: The Differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. What do these platforms have in common? They are the vehicles Millennials use to communicate and the reason your business needs to reconfigure its customer service practices to embrace 21st century multichannel marketing solutions.

Though a number of decision-makers you target may represent the Baby Boomer generation, an overwhelming number of executive and mid-manager positions are now being held by this younger generation, meaning you have to find a way to appeal to them in B2B sales as well.  At the same time, as a result of their rising status in the business world, millennials now also have more money to spend as consumers. So whether you operate B2B or B2C, reaching this younger generation is paramount to business success.

So how do you target this market? For starters, consider how to use the technologies they frequent. When Pew Research conducted a survey in 2010 on the chief differences between Baby Boomers and Millennials, the study revealed that millennials feel their incessant use of technology makes their generation unique. You can only imagine how much stronger this relationship with technology has become in the last five years with the ramping up of social media.

In addition to leveraging modern technologies to target your millennial audience, you must also take into account how they shop. Millennials tend to shop online, for instance, rather than head to the shopping mall like the Baby Boomer generation. As such, your brand has to be available across a myriad of retail channels in order to catch the attention of a media-driven generation. A strong reliance on the online market also warrants higher online customer service expectations. A Baby Boomer might tell his or her friends and family about a customer service experience, however, millennials posses the potential to influence a greater span of consumers by sharing their reviews online, according to an article written by the Boston Consulting Group.

InfoCision helps our customers augment their demographic outreach by offering strategic multichannel marketing solutions. Our business intelligence services allow us to pinpoint which channels will provide the most success for your target audience. If expanding your market potential is on your agenda for this year, why not add an email marketing campaign? Ever consider text message response to service inquiries?

Millennials can be a puzzling generation from the perspective of a Baby Boomer. Taking advantage of multichannel marketing solutions can help you solve the consumer behavior riddle.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

The Importance of Setting Employees Up to Succeed

Businesses often closely examine the most effective means to get maximum productivity out of employees, which is of course a worthwhile goal. At InfoCision, however, we prefer to frame the discussion in a slightly different way: how can we set our workers up to give them the best chance to succeed?

That is a question with many correct answers, but there are several basic strategies any company can begin to implement immediately in an effort to get the most out of its workforce:

Match Personality to Job Description

Not everybody is well-suited for every job—that is just a simple reality. You don’t want your shyest workers—no matter how intelligent they might be—talking to customers for eight hours every day. Every employee has his or her own strength and it is the employer’s job to figure out what those are and how best to use them. Some organizations even go so far as giving employees personality tests before assigning them a specific job title. A business should always be looking to seamlessly pair personalities with job descriptions and shouldn’t be afraid to switch an employee to a different job or department if the employer determines the change would be a better fit.

Embrace Technology

Particularly, contact center technology can ensure people are handling the tasks they are qualified to tackle. Skills-based routing, for example, ensures that the most complex or difficult contact center inquiries are sent to someone with experience and a history of dealing with similar scenarios effectively. A fully-baked, top-of-the-line customer relationship management (CRM) system also puts employees in a solid position by giving them the relevant information necessary to resolve customer issues swiftly.

Ongoing Oversight and Guidance

Most organizations try to emphasize quality employee training, but many fall short in helping those workers to continue growing in their roles over time. Refresher courses, team meetings, brainstorming sessions, town hall style discussions with executives—these are all ways for a company to help its employees do their jobs more effectively as time goes on. Additionally, these kinds of events show that upper management is invested in employees’ individual success as well as company prosperity.

Click here to learn more about how InfoCision aims to create a great workplace culture for its employees.