The Future of Customer Service is Going Through Puberty

By Mayur Anadkat

The customer service industry is experiencing some technology growing pains. We are seeing a lot of examples of the next big thing and trending technology ideas go through an awkward stage, like puberty. Not quite developed for the future, but apparent for everyone to see we are hitting a time of real change. I'm feeling a huge push in technology to want to be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and bots becoming the new normal, but the maturity level of these are stuck at an awkward, teenage level. IoT and bots are in their early days, not sure where they fit in, still trying to find a home, not quite confident and accepting that this is the new normal.

The IoT is surrounding us, connecting devices to an app to make that thing smart. We see hundreds of inanimate objects telling us when it needs attention. I've seen some ridiculous examples: a prescription pill bottle that lights up when you need to take one or need a refill, a baby bib lights up when a baby needs to be fed, an alert on your phone that the temperature is changing in your home because of the temperature outside, a smart refrigerator that notifies you when you're running low on milk. Really, it's all about sensors and lights, is this all the future holds? These are at very basic stages, not a necessity at this time.

Facebook is now getting into the customer service act as well, by offering a platform for its users to engage with vendors for sales and services via Messenger chat bots. Turning digital experiences into personalized conversations forms a bond with the end user, but is a chat bot mature enough to handle this relationship? Bots are also going through puberty, stuck in their awkward stage of being basic and not sophisticated enough to handle a complicated transaction. There still needs to be a human on the back end to reply when the service or sale becomes too complicated for an automated response.

Once these technology ideas can develop into a mature model and survive the rough times of puberty, I have hope that IoT and bots can find their killer app. The key to maturing is connecting the dots of the technology to the people. Until we get past the teenage level, and the person behind an automated reply or alert, the customer experience is going to feel very basic.

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