Businesses are increasingly leveraging automation tools to streamline their processes, power their digital marketing strategies and respond to customer reviews. With the proliferation of automation software that promises fast, “personalized” responses to feedback, you might be wondering if there’s still a need for the human touch.
The short answer is yes.
Customers often still prefer human-to-human communication. For instance, someone who makes a complaint against a business would expect a living, breathing representative to respond and resolve their issues.
Read on to learn about the pros and cons of AI or artificial intelligence and how to balance consumer demand for immediate responses with their need for human-to-human communication.
Artificial Intelligence in Marketing and Customer Experience Management
It wasn’t so long ago that people were suspicious of eCommerce and automation tools. Purchasing products without seeing them in person was unheard of, and everyone hated having to go through an automated phone system to “talk to a human.”
Fast forward to today, and most consumer-business interactions take place online. Chatbots have taken the place of call center agents, delivering speedy replies without the need for annoying hold music. If you don’t want to go outside to do your shopping, you don’t have to. You can buy a pair of shoes, a meal or even a house entirely through apps.
Automation tools and software are used in countless applications, from ensuring straight seams in clothing factories to analyzing consumer data to deliver targeted advertising. AI in business is also increasingly being leveraged for review monitoring and responses. This is because of automation’s key benefits, which include:
- Speed and efficiency
- Time and cost savings
- Improved standardization of processes and responses
- Ease of getting to a 100 percent response rate
The ability of AI marketing to both collect and learn from data, not to mention find patterns in seemingly unconnected information, has helped spur the growth of businesses across all industries. Factories use AI-powered tools to streamline marketing tasks and reduce errors.
One example of AI marketing is Netflix using viewing history to identify which pieces of content to recommend. Another excellent example of AI in marketing is when Starbucks utilized propensity modeling in its “Digital Flywheel program.” Using machine learning and considering various factors, such as order history, day of the week and weather, to recommend and offer certain beverage and food promotions.
AI and automation technologies are also used in customer experience management (CXM). CXM refers to the processes and technologies that businesses use to facilitate customer engagement, improve customer satisfaction and boost CX. The goal is to leverage digital marketing, sales and customer support to encourage brand loyalty and repeat business.
For businesses dealing with a large number of reviews on multiple platforms, automation software may seem like the ideal solution. Using AI allows companies to respond quickly to reviews with templated messages, seemingly eliminating the need for human-to-human communication.
However, as with any new software, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of AI before utilizing it for automated reviews responses. This is because artificial intelligence in marketing has the potential to both help and harm customer relationships and business reputations, at least depending on how, when and why it’s utilized.
Pros and Cons of AI for Automated Reviews and Responses
Automation tools for review monitoring services and management have significant benefits:
- Save time
- Save money
- Ensure fast responses
However, AI in marketing has significant downsides, specifically tools used to respond automatically to authentic reviews.
The following are some examples of the disadvantages of AI:
People Don’t Like Bots
Research from PwC shows that 82 percent of U.S. and 74 percent of non-U.S. consumers want more human interaction.
Customers, especially those who’ve had a negative experience with the brand, can find it frustrating to be responded to by automation software. It can make them feel as if their experience and opinion are not valid.
Automated Tools Aren’t Appropriate for All Industries and Situations
Not all industries derive the same amount of value from automation tools. For instance, ensuring customer satisfaction in sectors such as healthcare, education, hospitality, sales and customer service sectors requires soft skills like empathy, active listening and persuasion. In essence, skills that a chatbot or autoresponder does not have and cannot learn.
Automated software can replicate a human’s way of speaking or feeling. However, it often misses nuances, contextual cues and tone changes when analyzing reviews. It also does not have the ability to make wise judgments based on intuition and empathy.
Consider this hypothetical back-and-forth between an angry customer and a brand:
I made a reservation two weeks in advance, but when I got there, they couldn’t find my name on the list. I absolutely loved standing outside the restaurant until a table was free. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my Saturday night. Thanks a lot.
Depending on the settings and triggers they’ve input in their tools for automated reviews responses, the brand might end up with a completely inappropriate answer, such as this one:
Thank you for taking the time to write this fantastic review. We are so happy that you enjoyed dining at [company], and we can’t wait to see you again!
Apart from failing to address their concerns, the automated response can further anger the customer, resulting in poor CX and creating a negative impression of the brand, which, in turn, could lead to reputational damage. In contrast, personalized answers make the customer feel valued and part of a community. This is especially true if the replier is able to reference previous conversations.
The disadvantages of AI stem from the fact that AI and associated technology has not yet progressed enough to take the place of human interaction. While these disadvantages of AI might not deter big businesses that don’t understand the value of online review management, it’s a deal breaker for organizations that aim to improve customer satisfaction.
Why the Human Touch Still Means So Much – Especially in Review Responses
Negative feedback is rarely straightforward. For example, reviews of doctors’ practices could touch on a wide variety of topics, from the physician’s lack of bedside manner to the lobby not being clean. Unfortunately, this makes mapping out potential scenarios and creating templated responses for each of them a tedious, time-consuming and probably impossible task.
It’s also challenging to create responses to positive feedback because happy reviews often include hints at dissatisfaction with one aspect or another of a product or service.
For instance, it’s not uncommon to see a 5-star review that describes a generally positive experience but briefly mentions a negative experience.
I love love love my new sewing machine. It works great despite being so cheap. However, the box it came in was damaged, and two bobbins were missing. Still rating this five stars, though.
Responding to this kind of feedback with a templated positive response comes across as inauthentic, and the customer might end up feeling as if their concerns were dismissed or disregarded. On the other hand, not acknowledging the negative experience is also a sure sign that the brand’s review monitoring services rely too heavily on automation.
Authentic Reviews Deserve Authentic Responses
While artificial intelligence in marketing and online review management has advanced in leaps and bounds, it’s still not comparable with human support and service. It does have its uses, but they are limited.
“It is useful for simple positive reviews and companies that get a huge volume because they are large companies,” Tim Clarke, senior reputation manager at Rize Reviews, said. “However, I think a real person should write responses that have knowledge of the actual business.”
“The automated responses are boring, not effective or correct and often have no context. It seems to be defeating the purpose of giving good customer service.”
Suppose your customers took time out of their day to write authentic reviews about your business. In that case, it is only common courtesy to respond with a personalized message, not an AI marketing response that’s templated and appears insincere.
The belief that the human touch in review response generation is slow or inefficient is a misconception. For instance, Rize Reviews uses only real writers but can respond within one to two business days. The team uses a centralized dashboard to reply, speeding up review monitoring and response for more than 100 review sites.
To deliver personalized responses aligned with the brand’s tone and image, Rize Reviews writers train with the brand’s team, review their style guides and study past human review responses. Additionally, the team has regular feedback sessions to further improve the quality of responses provided by the writers.
AI in marketing and review response doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. AI tools can be utilized for customer support. For example, they can address simple questions and route more complex concerns to human agents. However, the human touch is still best for applications requiring nuanced responses, such as answering reviews.
Deliver Exceptional Customer Experience Through Personalized Review Response
Human interaction is of the utmost value in situations that require careful handling, such as responding to negative reviews and addressing poor CX mentioned in positive reviews. While AI can respond to simple reviews with templated answers, human writers can be relied on to deliver reliable and relevant solutions to even the most unusual of concerns.
Human-made review responses also help mitigate customer frustration while showing your customers that you care enough about them to provide personalized responses rather than robotic, cold answers.
While there is still a place for AI in business, such as in the automation of manual tasks, the human touch is still the best choice for online review management.
Rize Reviews offers an online review response service centered on personalized, human responses. Our goal is to help businesses improve customer relationships, establish positive branding, maintain brand control and boost local rankings through review monitoring and review response optimization. Try out our review widget and request a free demo of our services to learn more.