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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Tech Overload in Customer Relations

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It is a common, though not consistently recognized, issue. While poorly functioning technology often frustrates users, too much tech can be as detrimental. It can be tempting to think consumers may want a lot of high-tech to speed interactions with your business; tech overload can be a customer relationship killer. Based on my experience, it’s essential to consider ways you can avoid this pitfall.

1. Humans still do a better job at many things

We leverage technology heavily at my jewelry insurance company via an omnichannel strategy. However, there are areas where we find technology doesn’t do the best job and where humans can do better work, which is true in many businesses today. Humans are better and essential for many interactions across an organization.

Everyone is trying to leverage technology to do everything, especially with the explosive interest in AI and GenAI. However, AI and GenAI can’t necessarily streamline or automate everything. For instance, many things require empathy and experience that only humans can provide to each other. The human touch is a real and powerful force. For example, we use some technology to manage an insurance claim, but humans mainly control it. Why? Because we need to ensure our customer interactions have genuine empathy. Computers don’t have that capability. They’re not good at the subtle nuances required when you and your customer – want human help and understanding.

Resist the temptation to overload your processes and company with technology. Even when your intentions are good, when you’re trying to create a better user experience with it, the result can have the opposite effect. The technology can be great, but the user experience fails because the way it responds isn’t what people want or how they want it. Innovate in small steps to test and learn before making decisions or expanding your use of high tech—especially with your prospects and customers.

Related: Productivity Tanks During These ‘Dead’ Hours. Are You Guilty?

2. The path of least resistance isn’t always high-tech

It can be easy to gravitate towards complicated tech-driven paths that appear to be more efficient. Many leaders get enamored by really complex solutions. Or, they feel market pressure to have ultra-feature-heavy technology. They’re embarrassed that their innovation may seem lacking in sophistication.

But, often, the path of least resistance isn’t always optimized by maximizing high tech. Your first iteration in automating processes is likely going to be ugly. Don’t assume your technology has to be elaborate or in-depth out of the gate. Instead, start small, gain feedback, learn and iterate. Utilize technology to create feedback loops and dial into how people use your product, down to every detail and nuance. It can tell you what buttons users click on, what colors perform best, how often they click, etc.

If you’re using the right tools, you can monitor interactions and gain excellent quantitative insight. Then, combine those insights with qualitative (read human) customer feedback. Ninety-nine percent of the time, simplicity is better.

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Need Intermittent “Brain Fasts”

3. Catching the latest trend can’t always be trusted

Many leaders fixate on trends and lose sight of first-principle thinking. You have to be able to take a step back and determine whether you feel something makes sense for your business. It doesn’t matter what consultants are telling you or what your competitors are doing. You can believe in adopting current technology. I certainly do. But, you also have to know when it risks overloading your staff and customers.

There is much fear of missing out (FOMO) and pressure for CEOs and leaders to embrace the latest technologies. The narratives around AI and GenAI are excellent examples. Companies are scrambling and wondering how to use AI/GenAI, how to get there first, etc. But it doesn’t make sense for companies to use AI and GenAI. We’ve found good ways to use it in initial prospect and customer interactions, but it’s in a small capacity. Above all, it is about how well it works for you and your customers.

Many major tech companies roll out solutions and features that people do not use at the cost of millions of dollars — and this should not happen. Innovation can come with costs. Test and learn, experiment, and ask questions when considering innovations. Don’t assume that you’re missing out or lacking. Validate with human conversations and judgment instead.

Related: How to Ensure Tech Doesn’t Overshadow Your Brand’s Human Touch

A hard-earned lesson

Tech overload was something I observed in the early era of insurtechs. Many in the industry believed consumers would prefer to buy their home, auto and other insurance policies directly from insurance companies online. Build the sleek technology, and they will come. But it didn’t quite work that way. Only some consumers preferred that online experience, while many did not. S

ome consumers want to work with a trusted broker or agent, which is why they have purchased insurance for decades. Ignoring the power of the human component in the buying process has led several high-profile insurtech startups to struggle.

There are many other examples, from e-commerce shopping carts to smartphones. When leveraging technology, take your time, create feedback loops and (most of all) look to your customers’ expectations.

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