High Tech vs High Touch: The Age-Old Battle for Customer Experience

In this Digital Age, high tech approaches to customer service and customer experience are often pitted against, and even seen as superior, to more traditional high touch, in-person interactions. The old must always make way for the new, of course, but does it always have to be high tech vs high touch? Wouldn’t it make more sense to combine the relative benefits of both approaches?

Technology has certainly ushered in greater convenience than ever before, placing consumers truly in the driving seat, where they can shop, bank, and learn 24/7/365 from the comfort of their homes. However, in this Brave New Digital World, customer journeys are also often missing the essential human part of a transaction or process, meaning that these high tech customer journeys are now sometimes more difficult and less satisfying than the low tech, high touch (human) processes they were meant to replace.

Perhaps before we condemn one approach, we should first examine the relative benefits of both the old and the new…

The Case for High Tech

From a business perspective, enterprises will often favour self-service channels as these allow them to serve customers at a fraction of the cost. Now, self-service, high tech customer experiences are fine if the CX tech is intuitive and effortless to use, and/ or the customer journey and product are simple enough to be able to be understood and completed online, without assistance. 

With higher value or more complicated journeys, however, such as mortgage applications, research and advisory firm Celent found that customers often up reverting to more traditional (high touch) assistance. For example, approximately 80% said they preferred assisted channels when rectifying errors made by the bank, and around 70% expressed a preference for human help when obtaining answers to specific banking-related questions.  

If customers are unable to complete their online customer journey, they are likely to find themselves alone, stranded in a sea of self-service communicating with AI bots, or, if forced to visit a store/ branch, stuck in long, laborious processes.

Trapped in this CX limbo, customers may discover that their banks or stores rarely offer a Plan B, which means customers must either start their journey from the beginning in a completely different channel or drop out of the digital process altogether. This digital exodus of so-called “digital misfits” creates frustrated customers and inflated bank costs.

The Case for High Touch

Customers often prefer speaking to a human agent because they can attain a level of nuanced reassurance, clarity and understanding otherwise unavailable in most self-service digital channels, or traditional call centre interactions. Despite this, having to visit a store or branch can be inconvenient for the customer and not the most cost-effective method of dealing with customers’ questions for the business.

Besides the monetary repercussions of forcing customers down certain channels, the UK Customer Satisfaction Index discovered that customers who were able to use their preferred CX channel with an organisation were much more likely to be satisfied than those who were forced to a channel that they didn’t want. Having a digital-only solution, or in-person solution, therefore, is clearly insufficient.

Enterprises therefore have a choice to make: either continue to offer a separate high tech and high touch service model or combine the relative benefits of both. In doing so, enterprises can offer the qualities of a face-to-face interaction in their digital channels, and/ or the benefits of digital channels in their in-person interactions.

High Tech vs High Touch: The Verdict

At Vizolution, we believe there is no reason why enterprises should restrict themselves to offering either a high tech or high touch customer experience. The best solution is one that combines the benefits of both digital and in-human interactions.

We supercharge contact centres to become smarter, allowing agents to offer the same level of visualisation and functionality as in-branch by utilising a unique live-sharing (screensharing) solution to display product information, share documents, verify identity and collect electronic signatures.

The benefit of doing this means enterprises can offer a high touch, high tech digital service that allows their customers to complete their journeys in an efficient, convenient, engaging and cost-effective way.

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