NextGen of Customer Service


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The Henn Na Hotel (quite literally “The Weird Hotel’) in Japan, that opened recently, has robots to do most of its customer facing work. The reception, the concierge, the porter and even the cloakroom attendant are all robots. Room service will soon have drones delivering food.

This project, by Hideo Sawada, is designed for an amusement park. Besides entertaining the guests, efficiency and cost saving are the two prime reasons for this endeavor. He plans to perfect the model and recreate another 1000 hotels like it across the globe.

This is but the first step. Soon it may no longer be weird to have hotels completely run by robots the world over. And if this is possible in a hotel, which is a very complex service hub with a lot of physical interaction with the customer, imagine how simple it will be to completely automate customer service in industries where the physical interaction is much less?

With quality of customer service in a global free-fall, this could well become a reality. If service quality doesn’t improve, if organizations don’t get their focus right and CSPs don’t whip themselves into shape, there may soon be options innovated to remove all human intervention from customer service entirely.

This possibility is recognized by businesses as they continue to make huge investments into service automation technology. Large sections of service are already controlled and delivered by automated systems in banking, telephony and e-retailing, to name a few.

The only thing holding businesses back from going the whole nine yards is the incessant talk of empathy towards the customer. This is something that a machine can’t provide – yet. It is possibly the only reason for the continued presence of human interface.

But take a look at the customer; so comfortable interacting with a screen, be it a cellular phone or a computer. Also, the customer expects empathy only when speaking to a person. On the other hand, they are quite comfortable interacting with a machine that shows no empathy or solace. It isn’t long before they wont miss the absence of a human interface. 

Straight out of a cyborg movie, but this era is just round the corner; and we have only ourselves to blame for dragging service quality into an abyss. Averting or delaying this occurrence is possible, but is not the sole responsibility of the company. Every customer service professional must also make it their personal crusade to deliver service as ordained by the customer – swiftly, accurately and on time.

Are we committed enough to do that?

If not, let’s teach ourselves a new profession, because soon we’ll be the dinosaurs of customer service.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Sunil Panikker
Sunil Panikker is a business consultant specializing in customer service, operations and business strategy. He has honed his expertise over 30 years of experience, working in senior management positions, with companies having global footprints, and responsibilities that have been cross-functional & multi-locational. His blog shares the experience and expertise assimilated from managing customer experience across multiple diverse industries.


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