The importance of humanizing service in an artificially intelligent world

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We live in a digital world where we often no longer have contact with people but communicate through bots or get lost on FAQ pages that leave us stranded. AI is moving in like Godzilla on Gotham and while a few of us make use of the playground that the accessibility of this mega force brings, others are behaving like stunned rabbits in the headlights of the future. What can we do? Focus on where the human kind of intelligence is indispensible.

Lara Nedjabat and her business Nedjabat Network, a premium service powerhouse based in Berlin, is helping companies provide better service to their customers. We spoke to her about customer satisfaction and the importance to have human empathy fueled intelligence at the core of client facing services.

One should assume that it is important for a company to satisfy its customers: why do companies not provide good service? What is the catch?

LN: Over the years, one thing has always been true in my work, and that is that companies that offer good service also invest a lot of time, effort, and heart in establishing clear and special processes and structures. Some important topics that significantly influence the customer journey include the application process and selection of employees, onboarding, trainings, structures and standards, leadership, company values, communication/exchange/feedback, an offboarding, and of course, role models. Companies that do not provide good service usually avoid all of these things.

In your opinion, what makes good customer service?

LN: It can be so simple. For me, good service has nothing to do with luxury, which means that I don’t expect good service only in 5-star hotels, but in principle. It can be found everywhere. Good service begins with a smile, something humanly authentic. In addition, it requires a genuine interest in people, coupled with a lot of empathy and good antennas to feel what the other person wants/needs. Therefore, it is so important for professions that are in the service sector and deal with people to find out through certain questions in the application process whether someone has these “soft skills” or not. In addition to soft skills, standards and structures are also essential to ensure that I, as a customer, always have a similarly positive and efficient customer experience. If only a part of the customer journey does not work or is negatively perceived, customers will stay away in the future. So it’s always about the sequence of many different small attentions that make the difference. For me, good complaint management is also part of good service because with the right communication and action, a complaining guest can also become a loyal, happy customer. I could talk about this topic for hours, but here you have an idea of what makes good service for me, among other things.

Can you give some exciting examples of how better customer service has changed the entire business?

LN: A few months ago, I was invited to consult a company that was considered to have a good product on the German market. They were experiencing customer complaints in the customer contact/service area because the employees who worked in the public areas often did not act very service-oriented – the “friendly tone” was missing.

I took a lot of time to analyze the operational structures, we had many employee discussions, and looked closely at the work processes. After that, it became clear to me why there were customer complaints and why the customer service was so poor. The answer is the same in most cases: it is a sequence of issues. In this case, it was because there was no structured onboarding for employees in place, flat hierarchies, no leadership, and no standardized processes were introduced, so each team member performed the work differently. There was also a lack of identification with the company because this issue was never addressed when hiring new employees.

In short, we…..

  • Created an onboarding process that is fun and makes all new team members feel valued while also conveying company values that contribute to a good culture.
  • Established SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and checklists for operational positions to achieve consistency in work processes.
  • Conducted leadership coaching and training with the executive management to learn how to work collaboratively with their teams while also learning how to motivate and lead them from a different level.
  • Conducted a workshop with management on the topic of mission and vision statements and defined them together. We also identified the values that are important to the company and what they stand for.
  • Acted as a sparring partner for certain members of the executive team and conducted quality checks every 2-3 months to ensure a certain level of service quality.

Do you use AI and tech tools to add another level to human service?

LN: Of course, sometimes the solution is much more straight-forward than one would think! The most important task is again – find the fault in a chain of events. With another client, a medical practice, everything was going pretty well except for the lack of a booking software for patient appointments. The waiting room was always overcrowded, and the staff couldn’t keep up with the phones, making them quickly stressed and not always friendly to patients. We quickly analyzed the situation and brought peace to the work environment in this practice through digitization and smart processes. This meant that the team could focus again on soft skills, such as a friendly greeting, a polished tone, and an efficient approach. It can be that simple, but when you’re in the midst of chaos, you often can’t see the forest for the trees. That’s where NEDJABAT NETWORK comes in.

How can teams become better at feeling empowered to change processes?

LN: Ideally, a team should always work together. This happens only when it is well-led, and a culture and values are nurtured.

A lovingly and well-planned onboarding process is an important component for every new team member to convey the structures, processes, and content, as well as the company’s values. Through regular and effective communication (e.g., meetings and feedback conversations), these values can be conveyed and lived, creating a corporate culture and DNA that all employees live and are part of.

In this context, I like to talk about the “internal guest.” If we treat our colleagues as friendly, loving, and attentive as we treat our customers, it has an enormous impact on the culture, and everyone becomes a role model for each other. #caring #care #reciprocity

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