By now, any business hoping to be around in the future knows there’s a broad consensus on two aspects of that future: automation and the customer experience (CX).
Both are deemed to be ‘defining influences’ on our approaching reality, but in the absence of any other certainty, that statement remains rather broad.
Certain industries will likely be decimated by one of these imperatives. One can imagine a few shifts in retail on the back of automation (more likely CX imperatives), but one can easily imagine the automation and ensuing joblessness in factory work, or the collapse of certain other models of business.
If you were a supply side operation, you might find yourself forced to meet heightened retail expectations that could hamper your profitability. Even if you’re a no-frills retailer hawking price as the pitch, your customers still expect a superior customer experience－price won’t be enough.
Significant shifts are already happening, and new innovations are just waiting to happen.
In fact, any top-ranked IT support crew like EC-MSP is feeling the shifts in IT, too. It may seem ironic to outsiders that those who spawned AI could be replaced by a robot version of themselves, but that’s not what’s happening. As robots become more ubiquitous, it’s likely that IT’s mandate, ranks, and contribution will only grow for the next century or so.
We’re on the cusp of the most connected and technologically advanced era ever – if anything, that should mean boom times for IT technicians.
Further, many new doors we haven’t yet imagined might open for IT support staff as a whole in our digital future. Truth be told, this is already happening in small fits and starts.
So, how does IT support realise the twin imperatives of automating support in step with clients’ expectations (and their experience of other aspects of life currently being infiltrated by AI and robotic assistance), while also morphing to become far more customer-facing?
As with many industries, the misapplication of these two drivers of future commerce can hobble a company to the point of vanishing completely.
So, what exactly does near-future IT support look like, and how will it assimilate the dual imperatives driving business at large?
Between automation and the customer experience, choose the latter
While we don’t know much of what the future will look like, it’s a sure bet that those IT crews focusing on reorientation as driven by their customers’ experience, will be far more stable (and ultimately successful) than those who become obsessed with automation for its own sake.
Put differently, we know by now how humanity rolls into new experiences. There’s always an enormous need for mutual support in these scenarios. Expert guidance, real care, great service; these things make money and, more importantly, they keep clients coming back.
The skillful IT company of the future will be the one anticipating people’s needs in the dawning age of AI, and making sure their customers remain happy.
Competitive differentiation in the IT support arena (defined by the creation of superior experiences for customers) is likely to become definitive for the industry – and sharply defined, at that.
“Creating a superior customer experience” sounds so idealistic…
How will IT support meet this trend?
It comes down to a remarkably simple practice: bundling, lessening, or otherwise facilitating the customer’s business experiences.
It’s more a ‘raising of the bar’ on legacy understandings of customer experience than inventing a new and strange way to greet and retain customers, as we have known for some time now that speaking to people’s pain points is a great way to become the solution.
It might be simple, but it’s going to become mandatory sooner rather than later. Techies who simply get the work done and leav- without leaving their client a little wiser or interested in evolving alongside their support crew – will be leaving their future profitability on the table.
Consistency is key in this practice, too. Showing a habitual interest and dynamism in their clients’ evolution will position such companies above the rest.
To return to the point above about how badly people will need level heads and tech savvy going into an increasingly digital age, this is precisely the kind of ‘window of opportunity’ that opens to allow top support companies to clearly demonstrate their value.
Companies are shifting from service level agreements (SLA) – that may or may not result in satisfactory customer service at the end of the line – to experience level agreements (XLA) with their internal clients and external providers. An XLA is a sharper focus, a genuine customer orientation, no fluff, and it’s a demand for great CX results at the end of any process.
As those in modern business and commerce realise automation is crucial to the customer experience, they’ll seek out holistic support solutions that keep those systems running and customers happy.
What about automation?
Being truly customer-centric in IT support makes automation easy.
When the paradigm of operation is one where customer experiences come first, automation that facilitates great CX will logically fall into place.
This applies as much to any other industry as it does to IT. When you take the time to investigate your clients’ concerns, issues, and problems, what they want becomes known. In turn, what automation best meets their needs then becomes obvious and valuable.
That’s not to say automation can’t be a complex and challenging task. It’s unfortunate that the vast majority of any “client retention” search results will point to apps or tech rather than an articulate presentation of the fundamental prerequisite of friendly, skilled people, dealing with other people.
That’s how you elevate CX – by giving an honest hoot about your clients, walking in their shoes, and looking at their issues. This allows your problem-solving creativity and innovation shine, rather than foisting IT upon them that may not meet their needs or make them unhappy.
Against that backdrop, automation becomes broadly elementary: be there for people when they need you, and switch to autopilot when they don’t.
Automate your processes for them to facilitate their lives as much as possible – but don’t alienate them in the process. Automate IT support to whatever extent it doesn’t clash with superior customer service.
Shaping the future of IT support: automation and CX
Here’s the most important part: those IT support companies who are genuinely invested in making customers happy will be the only ones able to automate successfully – truly successfully – without alienating clients in the process.
That’s why IT support companies can’t fake a genuine interest－false customer service won’t make automation logical and positive.
In fact, from a modest stagnation in the arena for some years, IT needs to find its relevance again. For too long trading on the digital age’s inevitability, IT support’s transformation in accommodating the heightened imperatives of CX and automation must be focused on driving the customer’s business value and enhancing their business processes.
It’s not for IT – it’s for the client.
Remember this as a mantra when pivoting towards shining CX or automation.