Are You Overusing Your Digital Labor?
By Betsy Burton
Are You Overusing Your Digital Labor?
AKA: Are You Making It Impossible for Customers, Press and Partners To Reach You?
I’m finding many more organizations are taking advantage of chatbots, online forms or automated answering systems for prospective customers, partners and press to reach your organization. Increasingly use of automated systems and digital labor is very understandable, as they can save time and money (See “Prepare for the Impact of Digital Labor Now”).
However, I wonder if some organizations are overusing these channels in a way that alienates customers, partners and press more than helps the organization.
Example of The Issues
I was recently trying to contact several vendors I am researching. I found it almost impossible to reach some of the companies.
For example, with Boomi, a customer can fill out a form for them to get back to you, but who you end up speaking to is the sales representative who wants to show you a demo. If you call their main number, you get a “no-one is available to help you.” As an analyst it makes me wonder if this is a reflection of the wellbeing of their business and not just an effort to save money.
The only way to reach Talend is via an on-line form there is no phone numbers and no email. Just submit a form and hope you hear back. Customers working with Tesla will find it nearly impossible to reach a customer service or salesperson. Their primary interface is to fill out a request form and wait for a call-back.
These are just two examples of companies using, or rather overusing, these channels to interface with customers. There are many large and small organizations that are doing this. My question is does this really help your bottom line so much that it is worth the risk of alienating prospective customers?
Digital Labor Can be Powerful: The Good and Bad
Digital labor is becoming increasingly valuable within many businesses. Digital labor refers to the AI-enabled applications that are used to support automation and enhancement of tasks performed by humans. Digital labor can include logical software entities (e.g., embedded software chatbots, digital assistants/advisors) as well as physical robotics.
While many of the currently deployed Chatbots and digital assistants are fairly limited today, leading-edge digital labor interfaces are becoming so powerful that it is hard to tell human labor from the digital labor during interactions. Digital labor can be highly available at any time to your customers. If trained correctly, it can answer more questions quickly. And digital assistants can be integrated with other systems, such as supply-chain, systems management, financial, etc., so that digital labor could initiate action and updates quickly.
The challenge is that sometimes people need or want to speak to a person. If your business is making a significant investment in a product or service, many people want to speak to someone. If someone is sick and you need an advice line, you want to speak to a person. If your systems are having intermittent issues with your cloud provider, many people would want to speak with a person.
Digital Labor can be very powerful – available, scalable, and cost-effective. However, there are cases where your customers and partners will want to find and speak to a person. Don’t make it impossible to do this. Digital labor should be focused on enhancing customer experience not making it more difficult.
Know your customer and partner base. Ensure your business is supporting the communications channels that your customers and partners want and find valuable. And don’t expect any communication channel to address all customers’ needs. Customer and partner communication and collaboration is dynamic, particularly as technologies, people and businesses change.
The primary focus for using digital labor for customer interactions must be on enhancing customer and partner experiences, not on cost-savings.
Enterprise architecture (EA) has emerged as a critical discipline to help enterprises align their assets with their business strategy.
The discipline of EA is focused on bridging the gap between strategy and execution by delivering business outcome-focused roadmaps, models, and frameworks that enable balanced and informed investment decisions.
On Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Betsy Burton will discuss EA in 2023 and four major trends significantly impacting how organizations will need to support EA going forward.
- What is the role of EA and business architecture in 2023?
- What trends are impacting EA in 2023?
- How do organizations evolve their EA efforts to support their business?