The Human Touch: Avoiding Employee Alienation with Personal Support

Automation has increasingly become a favored labor-saving device for tech support departments. But the lack of personal support can end up being costly.

May 10, 2017 by Alex Collins

The personal touch in customer support has gone the way of the Tinder-less blind date.

Automation has increasingly become a favored labor-saving device for tech support departments. True, tools like tickets and chatbots free support workers from repetitive tasks and drudgework, but they also alienate support staff from the people they're tasked to help – and vice-versa.

Over-dependence on automation can cause problems in a different direction: the loss of the personal, human connection that subsequently undermines morale and workplace camaraderie.

Irritated by lack of personal supportPreference for Personal Care

There's evidence to suggest that maintaining a personal connection results in better outcomes for everyone – and removing that option can create negative outcomes that outweigh the cost savings.

Case in point: when Kaiser Permanente set up an automated patient portal, they found less technically-proficient patients were confused by it. Respondents cited fears of “[diminishing] the patients’ personal relationships with their healthcare provider” and “a preference for in-person communication”.

Forcing automation in this case would have increased these health disparities.

But technology vs. humanity shouldn't be seen as a zero-sum game, explains Guillermo Florido, a hotel facilities director blogging at LinkedIn.

“There is no reason that the increasing use of technology within the customer service systems of companies all over the world necessarily entails the complete loss of the human touch,” writes Florido. “Only if companies want to try and eliminate as many costs as possible and don’t care about how the quality of their service is affected, will it completely eliminate human interaction, and these companies should probably be avoided anyway.”

Ticketless IT and Other Tricks

Some tech support thinkers have found plenty of room to maneuver in the space between automation and pure personal engagement. Just ask DoSomething.org's Gleb Boundin, who quietly rebels against impersonal ticket systems “[that] foster burnout and apathy in IT people and make end users feel […] like they’re dropping a complaint into a bottomless pit.”

“Tech support is an inherently reactive job… a much more one-on-one position than most others at a typical organization,” Boundin explains.

Boundin implemented ticketless IT practices, where his coworkers ask for his help by group chat, email or in person. He also sends quarterly “happiness surveys” to gauge his respondents' satisfaction with his work, and adjusts as per the results. “It also has the psychological bonus of making my coworkers feel like I’m listening (I am),” he says.

Boundin acknowledges the difficulty of scaling his practice to bigger workforces. “For a large organization, this approach is obviously untenable and some sort of ticketing becomes necessary,” he explains. “But that doesn’t mean you have to lose the personal touch.”

Help Desk Services That Evolve With You

Another solution to the impersonal IT problem: outsource it altogether. Offloading to a trusted provider can improve outcomes, as long as that provider has a reputation for providing friendly, efficient support within optimal resolution times.

Services like the All Covered Enterprise Help Desk provide a responsive brand of service that makes your staff feel like their concerns matter.

By starting every project with an in-depth discovery and documentation process, All Covered Enterprise Help Desk staff acquire an in-depth look at how their clients' businesses operate, ensuring rapid, accurate – and best of all, satisfactory – resolutions each time.

For more information on All Covered Enterprise Help Desk and other services, contact All Covered Toll-Free Nationwide at 866-446-1133 or visit www.AllCovered.com.