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Augmented Humanity

A paper commissioned by Comdata highlights the importance of focusing on the client to create value

The market needs to change quickly, driven by technological evolution. This need has become urgent because old paradigms don't work anymore. Resistances, delays and immobility will bring us to extinction, inevitably. We need to act immediately and go towards a new humanism. Redrawing the relationship with customers by focusing on the customer itself is an essential change to make. Following this perspective, it's also necessary to redifine the relationship between companies and BPO partners.

This topic has been discussed at Polytechnic of Milan, on the occasion of the presentation of a whitepaper entitled "The future of Customer Management: Augmented Humanity" that Comdata commissioned to the research team directed by Giuliano Noci, professor of Management engineering at the Milanese university.

"The ongoing digital transformation is the most powerful transformation factor of the industrial history. It imposes new business rules and contributes to making the boundaries of industrial sectors less and less relevant. This translates into a radical change in people's purchasing behavior and, more generally, in the mechanisms of interaction between supply and demand", says professor Noci.

CUSTOMERS ARE "INDIVIDUALS"

Recent studies have shown that people aren't rational when they purchase. Companies and digital technologies would like to harness the customer in a logical, linear and predefined scheme. However, the trust shows that customers are "individuals" and therefore 90% of decisions are the result of intuition and emotions. A recent research explains this attitude well. Internet users prefer to interact with physical people (45% of cases) or with a mix of human and artificial intelligence (47%) when making important purchase (high costs and/or emotional investment).

THE NEW BUSINESS PROCESS OUTSOURCING (BPO) ROLE

It is therefore necessary to reason in a customer centricity logic, with the aim of restoring and increasing the value of the interaction between the company or brand and its users. "The centricity of the customer isn't an abstract slogan, but an important priority, which translates into the need for companies to organize the value chain around customers, not products", Noci points out. "It is a paradigm reversal, a change of direction that Comdata is implementing together with its partners, not only by providing innovative technological solutions but also by sharing strategies and process changes", says Alessandro Zunino, CEO of Comdata.

People don't ask chatbot or automations, but rather prefer a personal, coherent and simple relationship throughout their customer journey. In order to reach these objectives, suggests the paper of Polytechnic of Milan, the BPO needs to:

  • Support the client company in establishing a customer-centric value chain;
  • Represent an accelerator of customer intimacy for the brand;
  • Become an amplifier of the brand utility size.

THE MAIN GOAL IS TO SOLVE CUSTOMER'S PROBLEMS

In other words, instead of focusing on the minimization of the costs of customer care the absolute priority is to solve customer's problems. The extreme logic of short-term cost containment undermines the future propects of the company/brand. Conquering a customer today, at any (reasonable) cost, allows to strengthen a long-lasting relationship that will allow you to generate profit thanks to the solid and loyal relationship with the customer.

To obtain this result, the BPO provider can no longer be a mere performer of some contact operations, but it must become a real partner, a service provider that places the customer at the center and anticipates and solves the needs of individual. To all intents and purposes, the BPO is required to adopt a perspective of solutions-oriented value generation, and this objective must certainly be achieved with the collaboration of technology, but not at the expense of human interactions.

A JOINT TRANSFORMATION FOR A NEW HUMANISM

However, the paradigm shift proposed by this new humanism requires a non-trivial organizational effort from both companies and outsources. Working together for a common goal such as that of customer satisfaction requires a revision of the processes and assets capable of making an end-to-end customer management model.

The strong operational integration between company and BPO providers is an essential element. In fact, customer centricity requires a re-modulation of the relationship according to an efficacy perspective that can only be obtained by sharing the customer base data. It is also necessary to rethink the remuneration models. From the current dominant logic of the "pay per transaction" that strangles the quality of customer interaction we must move to a logic that rewards the achievement of customer intimacy services.

"HUMANS, SUPPORTED BY TECHNOLOGY, WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE DIFFERENCE"

However, this change cannot be made without focusing back on the quality of human capital. The changes taking place in the market and the progressive evolution of technologies must allow people to raise their level of competence to meet the demands of a market that is becoming increasingly complex. "The real firm point is that men, supported by technology, will continue to make a difference. This because within a human interaction there is also empathy as key factor. Something which no artificial intelligence algorithm is able to trigger. Therefore, it is correct to refer to a perspective of augmented humanity", professor Noci points out.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MUST BE REDESIGNED

Following this important paradigm shift, technology can no longer be considered a goal but rather a mean. Intelligent automation systems must therefore be selected with the aim of:

  • Improving the customer experience in the relationship phase with customer management on digital channels;
  • Supporting agents in their relationship with the customer at the same time.

The key in the conjugation of customer satisfaction and digitalization of processes is the possibility for customers to choose his preferred customer channel. It is necessary to overcome the logic of the experiences or of the predefined channels, and instead promoting the freedom of interaction. The customer experience must therefore be redesigned, promoting a quality customer/human operator interaction. The frontier between digital and human is precisely that of being able to make the best use of technology to respond (and anticipate) user needs.

TECHNOLOGY AND THE TRUST: THE ENI GAS AND LUCE CASE

Therefore, the transparency and mutual collaboration between BPO partners and companies becomes essential. Trust is key and it is also one of the distinctive elements of Comdata, as demonstrated for example by the recent collaboration with Eni Gas and Luce, the leading Italian operator in the supply of energy and gas. "To generate value by increasingly focusing on the relationship with customers, shifting the time horizon in the medium to long term, we had to change our approach radically. Comdata could no longer be considered just like a service provider, but it had to become our partner , in order to share data and processes together. We are confident that this paradigm shift will bring virtuous results for both", said Alberto Chiarini, CEO of Eni Gas and Luce. 

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