In today’s market, there is significant buzz around phrases such as automation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics and the like. Many businesses are investing in the fast-paced technology sector and innovating outdated systems for customer engagement. For example, earlier this year, the first US-based robotic café opened its (figurative) doors to patrons in San Francisco, serving reasonably priced espresso drinks with a robotic arm behind a large pane of glass. Only one human is present to administer the machine and assist customers with orders. With the changing face of consumer interaction, it is demanded of businesses to act progressively, so as to not fall behind in the realm of innovation.
According to an EY study from July 2016, early adopters of digitization appear to have gained a first-mover’s advantage and companies are looking for solutions to “bridge the gap” with their competitors. To that end, 68 per cent of corporate respondents believe that investing in M&A is more efficient than pursuing organic growth. 67 per cent of respondents plan to use M&A to build on digital capabilities in the next 2-3 years. Companies believe digitalization is “accelerating sector dynamics”, requiring a rapid response. More information on the growing appetite for digital M&A can be found in this previous post.
Increased access to digital technologies has given rise to more “human-less” customer services.
However, Accenture’s 11th Annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey encourages companies to prioritize humans over digital channels, even in the “digital age”. The report indicates that over 80 per cent of consumers prefer dealing with humans over digital channels to get advice or to obtain customer service. And, should a customer be lost from a poor experience, 68 per cent indicate that they will not go back once they have left a provider. Although there is appeal in servicing customers with digital and automated platforms, investment in human interaction with customers offers significant value for companies that should not be overlooked as digital M&A advances forward.