Evolution limits tech. success for customer service

How human evolution places limits on how technology affects customer service

Human Evolution Makes Us Social Creatures Who Still Prefer Face to Face

Many species who are less physically able to deal with stronger predators evolve to rely on socialness to defend themselves. They run in packs, or herds to warn each other, and maximize their safety.

The same is true of human beings. We’ve evolved as social pack animals rather than individual solitary animals because that’s given us the ability to defend ourselves collectively. Humans lacking this have long since died off, leaving a social human being.

Contrary to what many customer service experts suggest, that social “urge” cannot be satisfied via technology, or at least not by technology alone. Even in areas like dating, which is now facilitated by technology, there are few people who are satisfied by a completely virtual relationships.

We want to interact face to face, experience touch, and use all our senses when we interact.

Implications For Customer Service

On the one hand, most of us don’t rely on customer service interactions for our “social fix”, but still, we are learning that often people will choose to talk to a human being over a computer or machine, provided it’s not made less convenient or impossible.

If customers knew they could talk to a real human, without delay or hassle, they would choose that over the other technologically mediated possibilities.

Don’t Believe It?

People I’ve mentioned this to tend to disbelieve, saying they’d rather deal with a computer or machine, but it’s been so many years since it’s been easy to get real immediate customer service from a human that customers have given up.

But we have evidence. Over the last years, many retailers have installed self-service checkouts, and almost as many have either removed them, or realized customers don’t like them.

Next time you are in a retailer, take note of whether they have self-service checkouts, and notice where most people go.

All things being equal (which they aren’t), human beings will choose to deal with a real live human being over technology.

Human evolution is a major part of this equation. The second part of course, is convenience. Right now, companies try to push people to use technology because it’s scalable and cheaper than live human labor, making it inconvenient to try to get help from a human.

If they can make it so inconvenient to “use humans”, in effect customers don’t have reasonable choices in the matter.

If you make it equally convenient to use technology, or “use humans”, humans will win.

Author: Robert Bacal

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