As the world of customer service becomes increasingly omnichannel-focused, there are many ways for customers to find assistance and resolve an issue.

From self-service to chatbots and email to social media, your customers can choose the channel that works best for them, leading to better customer experience overall.

With technology on the rise, you may be wondering: should your company invest in customer care delivered by agents? Are they necessary to maintain consumer satisfaction when it seems like digital channels can do the same job?

The truth is: agents are still a critical factor in providing first-rate support. Here’s why.

First off, customers still want to talk to agents.

Unlike other channels, agents require a lot of investment, from human resources to equipment to training.

Due to this, more and more companies are adopting omnichannel customer service, recognizing that a multichannel strategy can reduce costs by downsizing the voice channel and bringing in less expensive digital channels.

Expanding customer service to multiple channels is an effective approach. But when an omnichannel strategy becomes a digital-first one instead, it’s time to ask: is that really what your customers want?

Over the last several years, companies are pushing a digital-first strategy, saying that customers demand self-service, which is not necessarily true. There are customers who still want to pick up the phone.”

—Matt Beckwith, Director of Customer Service at FELLERS

Customers want to interact with agents. They want a way to connect to your company’s values and brand. When given the option to select from multiple channels, many customers still choose to talk to an agent to resolve their problem, making agents critical to the omnichannel journey.

Plus, agents are especially important to customers when they become aggravated or confused by self-service or other channels. When frustrated with technology, customers just want to talk to someone who understands their problem—and who can get to the bottom of it quickly.

But customer preference is not the only reason why you need agents just as much as other channels in the omnichannel journey.

Agents have the skills to solve complex customer issues.

Digital channels are powered by systems like artificial intelligence or robotic process automation, but these technologies are designed to complete specific tasks, not handle a variety of customer issues.

It’s going to require much more time and innovation to make AI broadly applicable to most customer problems. If companies use AI for more than what it’s currently capable of, they will see a drop in customer satisfaction and a loss of revenue.

Agents fill in the gaps when technology doesn’t have the answers. With thorough training and market-leading technology, agents can solve the most complicated issues by relying on higher reasoning and problem-solving skills.

So although digital channels are important for automating certain aspects of customer service, investing in agents is essential to delivering a satisfactory customer experience from start to finish.

Agents can empathize with customers. Digital channels can’t.

There’s a very real need for agents in the omnichannel customer journey. And that’s because digital channels are years behind replicating the nuances and complexities of human conversation and emotion.

While technology can comprehend what it’s programmed to, it can’t converse naturally with customers or offer them genuine compassion.

Agents provide judgment, empathy, and emotional intelligence, all of which are necessary to properly understand and solve customer matters while preventing frustration, anger, and other negative emotions.

Customers want to feel heard and understood. And agents give them that.

“If you don’t have AI that can reason and empathize yet, you’re going to have to rely on a human being to create that customer experience.”

—Stephen Loynd, Founder of TrendzOwl

How do we ensure our agents deliver top-notch service to your customers in an omnichannel world?

  1. Giving agents background on each customer’s journeyWhen agents receive an issue, we inform them of the customer’s previous interactions with other channels to avoid repeating the same conversations and delaying a resolution.Providing agents with key information allows them to swiftly take over and solve matters so your customers stay happy.
  2. Preventing channel switchingIt’s essential to guide customers to the best channel for their particular situation. If a customer’s issue is complex or difficult to approach, we typically determine the best course of action is for them to speak to a live agent.There’s no need to toggle back and forth between multiple channels. Removing excess channel switching improves both agent and customer experience, helping the customer get to a resolution faster.

The agent’s role in the omnichannel customer journey is here to stay.

As the omnichannel customer journey evolves, agents will remain fundamental to achieving customer satisfaction.

Seamlessly integrating the agent’s role with digital channels is the best way to ensure future success in CX.