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Guest article: Serving the ‘Autonomous Customer’

Dr. Nicola Millard | May 2, 2013
How technology is super charging customers

Chinese customers are one of the fastest adopters of mobile technologies and relish the speed and control of automated services (56 percent like this) through both the phone and the Web (76 percent say that Web self service puts them in control).

Hong Kong customers are more likely to respond to companies that make life easy for them. Although 73 percent prefer the phone as a future channel for engagement, 45 percent want the option of other channels for their convenience.

India's ingrained service culture make them especially attuned to excellent service. They are embracing newer channels and innovations fast - with both personalisation (42 percent would like personalised messages while on hold) and voice biometrics (76 percent say this would save them time) being viewed positively.

While Singaporeans welcome multiple channels for engagement, the phone is still the preferred channel. They are especially time starved and love using automation and social media to keep them informed (51 percent use it to get special offers). Their service economy also means that great customer experiences are highly valued.

Away from Asia Pacific, we can contrast these attitudes with those of the UK and the US.

UK customers are deeply distrusting of large organisations and have high expectations of service. Ease of use is a big consideration, although 65 percent would rather use traditional channels like the phone because website FAQs don't give people the personal touch that they need.

Americans have an extremely high benchmark for service and are embracing channels like the Web and Web chat but want a real person available if they have questions or issues and 60 percent will recommend organisations based on their phone service.


Ultimately, all autonomous customers want is to get to their goal, potentially using multiple channels, as easily as possible. The key for organisations is to ensure that they make things easy for customers to do - whether they are on the Web, in store or calling the contact centre.

Super powered, autonomous customers also require super powered, autonomous employees to help them. This is the challenge because retailers, banks, governments have never had to serve this particular breed of customer before and they need to evolve their customer experience strategies to encompass multiple channels and higher levels of complexity. The back office is becoming the front office, the contact centre can't be disconnected from the website (or the rest of the organisation) and the retail store needs to arm their front line with the technologies to connect them to all of the above.

Are you ready to meet the challenge of the autonomous customer?

Dr. Nicola Millard is a customer experience futurologist with BT Global Services.



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