How to Preserve the Human Element of Customer Service


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HumanNew technology is designed to make our lives easier. But in the realm of customer service, new technology and personalized service are often at odds with one another.

How did this disconnect happen? For one, jaded by bad experiences, many consumers believe that service technology automatically implies a lesser level of humanity. This leads many brands to describe their support operations in terms of a customer’s ability to interact with “real people” when they have a question.

Technology and humanity are designed to work together. But it takes a new way of thinking – one that puts equal priority on both personalized customer service and advancing technology, allowing both to advance in tandem.

The key element in this balance is relevance. If technology can equip customers with relevant, helpful information, organizations can use technology to provide a personalized, human customer experience. Here are a few ways to preserve the human element of customer service:

1. Get Organized

Companies need to ensure that the relevant person is handling a customer request. How many times have we heard, “Sorry I am going to have to transfer you to another department because we can’t handle that here?” Customers will not tolerate that kind of service any longer, so it is critical that companies make sure people are relevant to the conversation.

2. Show the Human Behind the Content

Customers want to consume relevant information; they don’t need to (or necessarily want to) talk to a live person. But they really want to know that there is a human behind the content that they are being served. One of the main principals of Coveo is that knowledge is created when information is connected with a person that knows what to do with it. Therefore, when delivering service to customers, it is equally important to show the customer who the experts are with respect to the content. Those experts could be top contributors from a public community, your top customer service rep that has worked on this subject many times, or that subject matter expert that is sitting in a department within your organization. Customers want to put a face to the content to know it was human generated, not machine generated.

3. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Preserving the human element will only impact loyalty and satisfaction if the interaction between two people is relevant to the needs of the customer. Like content, it must answer the right questions being asked. Being relevant requires organizations to include a high degree of personalization. Having access to and knowing every interaction a customer has had with your organization allows you to personalize the important conversation with relevant content. That makes the customer feel like you know who they are, what they want and where they need to go to get their answer.

At the end of the day, customers just want brands to know who they are and how they can get the right answer, the first time. When technology can provide relevant information across channels, then brands have both factors working together for their benefit.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ed Shepherdson
Ed Shepherdson serves as Coveo's Senior Vice President of Enterprise Solutions. He brings 30 years of experience in the technology industry to this role. Prior to joining Coveo, he spent 18 years at Cognos, now an IBM company, where he most recently served as Vice President of Global Customer Support.


  1. Customers are calling because they want to talk and interact to a live person. Sometimes, it’s not just about having trouble with the product or service. Sometimes customers just want to vent out their frustrations and they need someone, a person, that represents the brand to listen to them and make sure that they are heard. Technology should not be a hindrance to that need but we can use that technology to empower that kind of service.

  2. @Cheyserr – I fully agree that on those occasions where someone simply wants to vent about a situation you want to make sure that the person has someone to talk to. The responsibility of the person they are talking with needs to be relevant to the what they are venting about – the advice that is given as to why this won’t happen again or what them might want to consider in the future to help with their situation has to be based on relevant content. The human is the interface for this content to be delivered. If someone is venting about a situation the last position you want to be faced with is having to say “I can’t help you”. Even venting customers don’t want to be patronized just because they are upset, they are still looking for answers.


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