There is not a single industry in the twenty-first century that has not been radically changed by technology.

Technological disruptions have altered the face of industries in previously unimagined ways. It has –

  • Facilitated faster communication
  • Created safer workspaces
  • Broken down geographical barriers
  • Broken down language barriers
  • Helped protect the environment

This, and a lot of other things. While most of the above-mentioned benefits of technology have been discussed and debated at length, an often overlooked impact of technology has been on customer expectations.

Customer expectations have seen a drastic shift in the past 20 years, thanks to rapid technological developments.

But even among various types of technology, one thing that has had a seriously large impact on modern customer expectations is automation.

Before we talk in-depth about the impact automation has had on customer expectations, let us first understand what automation is.

The International Society of Automation defines Automation as:

The creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services.

Sounds simple, isn’t it? And yet the impact automation has had on our modern lives is astounding.

Customers recognize that in automation, the world has found a goldmine. 

Here are some ways in which automation has contributed to changing customer expectations for the last 20 years.

The customer must always be in the know.

The customer of today wants certainty. At every stage in the service process, s/he must be kept in the loop and given timely updates. 

This means that you, as a service provider, must know exactly what is happening and when.

For instance, as a fleet manager, you must be able to provide timely updates about the status of product delivery in order to keep your client satisfied.

Thanks to technology such as GPS tracking, you can now know the exact location of your vehicles in real-time. And if you have not yet adopted this technology, you should read more about gps tracking and implement it without further ado.

Pro tips:

  • Collaborate with your team and have the right person answer your customer’s queries
  • Make sure that all the necessary data is available at the click of a button to your customer service representatives
  • Monitor the performance of your team in satisfactorily answering customer questions, and train them accordingly

Everything on-demand

Let’s face it; automation has made all of us at least a little, if not a lot impatient. On-demand entertainment, on-demand delivery, ready-to-eat food, etc., have got us to expect services at the click of a button and have our need fulfilled without any delay.

This certainly does not sound like good news when you are the one providing the service. You begin to realize that customer demands know no bounds.

However, automation does help make the task of satisfying customer needs a bit easier.

Pro tips: 

  • Remember this mantra while planning for any task: AUTOMATE-ELIMINATE-DELEGATE
  • Automate with the help of technology all that you can
  • Eliminate needless tasks that only result in wasted mental space, physical energy and time
  • Delegate tasks to those who are better suited for it

No human error

To err is human, as it has been said. Human errors are something that, if kept within limits, is always excused by the customer because well, the customer is human too, and s/he understands.

But what to do about errors when there are no humans involved?

Automation leaves no room for human error, and therefore, you have no more excuses for any operational errors that may arise.

Pro tips:

  • Have a frank conversation with your client about any shortcomings in service – whether it be owing to automation or otherwise
  • Ensure that any new software or piece of technology your organization adopts is first tested internally
  • Ensure your team is well trained in using the software as is intended

No uncertainty

Uncertainty is something business owners have to grapple with on a daily basis. Uncertainty could be of any kind – 

Political uncertainty

Social uncertainty

Technological uncertainty, or

Economic uncertainty

And guess what? Your clients want none of it. 

And for factors that are beyond your control, they want you to foresee that uncertainty and prepare for it well in advance.

Automation has also led to customers demanding certainty on the future course of actions, which may not always be possible.

Pro tips:

  • Automate your tasks but not such that it becomes too complex for you to understand
  • Read up on major developments in your industry and keep yourself abreast with the political and social developments in your country

Lower expectations of the ‘human touch.’

Millennials are now slowly growing accustomed to bots. Chatbots now seem more and more intelligent, and less and less like bots. Ask a simple question such as – define fleet, and the Google chatbot will throw up the best search result in no time.

They are now capable of understanding the subtle nuances of human language while consistently growing adept at resolving even complex queries.

This means that customers now not only expect but, in some cases, look forward to having their queries adequately answered by bots.

Computer-assisted customer service has a lot of advantages:

It answers queries in little to no time

It is always online (aka available to talk)

It eliminates any need for social niceties

This, in no way, means that all customers want their queries answered by a bot. It is simply an observation that customers now expect the same.

Pro tips:

  • The ideal scenario is when you provide your customers with options – the choice of talking to a bot or the choice of speaking to a human
  • You need not develop chatbots internally but can outsource these tasks to a third-party

In conclusion

Automation has indeed changed the way business is done.

But with the right attitude and solid resolve, you can turn these new customer expectations to a business opportunity, and use it to serve the customers better.

Technological progress is inevitable. It is all about how you respond to the challenges that come along with it. 

As goes this quote from Wayne W. Dryer –

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

There is no mountain too high and no challenge too big. 

Take automation in your strike, and may your business scale to new heights!