Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared on Shep Hyken’s blog and is adapted here with permission.


Technology is great … until it’s not. You are on a website. A little box pops up and there’s a picture of a customer service rep with a typed message asking if you need help. So, you type a question and receive a response moments later. That’s the perfect scenario. But, what happens when the response is wrong? I was recently on a website looking for a camera for my notebook computer. The chat box popped up, asking if I needed help. I typed in a question about the camera and the response was about what computer I was interested in purchasing. I had no interest in buying a computer. The digital experience had gone awry.

There needs to be a balance between the digital and human experience. A total digital experience is not always possible. If a customer needs support, a chatbot may not have all the answers. The best chatbots have been programmed to understand when it doesn’t have an answer or the customer is confused. At that point, the chatbot moves the customer from the digital experience to a human experience, as it seamlessly switches you to a human to continue the conversation. That’s the way it should work. That’s the balance.

Sometimes the experience moves from human to digital. For example, I may call a customer service rep with a how do I do this-type of question. The customer support rep can walk me through the steps, but that could take time. A better option might be to send me an email with clear instructions — or to send me a link to a video that explains, step-by-step, how to solve my problem.

So, how does a company strike a balance between digital and human? The answer is knowing where to cross over between digital and human — or the other way around. That point of the crossover is when there is friction. At the point of friction is the right place to switch. In the examples above, the chatbot knew when to flip me over to a live agent. The customer support rep knew I would have a better experience watching a video tutorial. Once you know the point of friction, you can strike the balance between the digital experience and the human experience, giving your customers the experience they deserve.

A version of this article by Shep Hyken appeared on his Customer Service Blog and is used here with permission. You can read the full version here.