Anxious customers naturally turn to other human beings for help. For example, a distressed patient might want to speak with a nurse when making sense of his blood test results. This type of behaviour is quite common. Yet many companies in high-anxiety settings – like financial services and healthcare – are funnelling anxious customers to self-service technologies – kiosks, websites, and smartphone apps – isolating them at the precise moment when they’re most keen for connection. It is clear that these technologies are less expensive to offer than human support. What’s less clear is the toll these self-service interactions may take on customers. Is self-service an effective way of helping customers deal with their concerns? Or is it exacerbating customer anxiety and doing long-term damage to service relationships?
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