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Guest Blog: Don’t be a robot, how to bring back the human side of customer service

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Alice Default writes about how to respond to customers on live chat and using chat to build customer relationships. I agree that it is important to use this opportunity to build relationships. Shep Hyken

Recently, more and more people have been asking me if I’m a robot as I reply to chat messages. Just so you know, I’m not.

customer service chat

What stuns me the most though is that in most cases, when I reply that I am in fact an actual human being, people won’t believe me. And I need to prove to them that I am in fact an actual human being.

If customers think we’re robots, it might just be because we’re acting like ones

These experiences push me to wonder what kind of customer service world we’ve entered. Customers are so used to having to deal with robots that they don’t even consider talking to a real human being like a possibility anymore.

Sure, customer service automation has a lot of good sides, especially because it makes us save time and money. But in a lot of cases, this is happening to the detriment of any type of human connection between your company and your customers.

Maybe it’s time we start working on building meaningful relationships with our customers, between humans. Here’s how we could make this work.

1. Be more authentic

Customers are becoming increasingly vigilant about being marketed and advertised at in all the messages they receive. This means that they will filter out anything that they consider like untrustworthy: branded content, advertising, fake personalized customer support…

To avoid this, the only solution is to be as authentic as you can possibly be. Your customers should feel like even though messages are probably sent out to them through automated mechanisms, there is an actual human being behind it all they can reach out to if they need.

Start by keeping it simple and treat each and every one of your customers as an individual, not a ticket number, with his best interest at heart, not yours.

2. Engage the conversation

If customers think we’re robots, it might also be because more often than not, we act like ones, focusing on “closing” conversations in the quickest and most efficient manner. But customer requests shouldn’t be something that we want to go through as quickly as possible. Instead, we should consider each and every one of them as the beginning of possible conversations.

Sure you want to solve your customers’ issuers. But you don’t have to stop there. Why not take this contact opportunity to go further in the discussion? Ask them how their projects are going, if they need help on anything else or if they want to contribute to your next product development brainstorm.

By being straightforward and engaging in simple conversations, you might realize that the relationship you’re building with your customers goes way beyond this small bug you helped them fix yesterday.

3. Listen then listen better

Thankfully, there are things robots still can’t do. And this is what you need to focus on doing really really well if you want to build a meaningful relationship with your customers. Listening is one of these things.

You and only you, as a customer service representative and human being, have the ability to listen to your customers’ issues and adapt your responses to their specific needs, personalizing the solution and identifying the best options to go through.

By listening better to your customers, not only will they get a better solution for their issues but you will also be able to gain something out of all the efforts you’re putting in creating a very personalized experience for all of your customers.

Wrapping up

It turns out the battle against automated customer service shouldn’t be that hard after all. Robots still don’t know how to engage in meaningful conversations or listen to their customers’ needs (at least not yet). If being human is all it takes, we’re on the right path for success. Now all it takes is to prove it!

Alice Default is the Head of Growth and Marketing at Front, helping other companies take good care of their customers. She fell in love with customer service at an early stage and has since then been convinced that providing great customer care should be a priority for all companies. Follow her on Twitter @alice_default.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to


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