Some months ago I was on a trip through some parts of the UK with my family. We had experienced two wonderful weeks of British nature, architecture, heritage and weather (everyone will confirm 2018 was an exceptional year!). However, we also had enjoyed a lot of personal exchange with many friendly people taking care of us and who did what they could to make us feel well. Be it at the Hotels, the Pubs and Restaurants, the public transportation, Museums or even just with persons we had occasionally met. The warm-hearted treatment was not on the list of what we would have expected. Not that we expected unfriendliness, but we were overwhelmed by the very human, natural and authentic kindness.

In the end, we had to fly back to Germany and to check in for the flight on the next day. Doing so, we encountered a small problem. It was possible to check in three of us, but not my youngest son as his passport was ‘only’ a child’s travel document, and the system did not accept the number of his document. On the website of the airline, we have been told to check-in as a family once at the airport. However, by doing so, there was a fee to pay, which was not the case when checking in online. Also, there was no guarantee that we could sit close to each other as a family….. So I decided to call the airline call centre. I was prepared for any kind of experience as my expectation towards Call Centres as you can appreciate is not very high. The first positive experience was that it ‘only’ took less than 10 minutes for a friendly voice to welcome me at the service centre of the airline. The person I talked to listened and tried to understand what my problem was. I could understand that he was trying to follow the steps I went through when trying to check in some half hour before and I could feel and hear how he got more nervous as time progressed without being able to solve the problem. He seemed never to have encountered this specific system failure and expressed his frustration very politely, but definitely with empathy and emotions. After ten more minutes of trying he frustratedly asked me to wait in line as he needed to ask someone how to solve this specific challenge. And then the waiting music started:

 

‘I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought, but I was kind

And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes, clear your heart
Cut the cord

Are we human or are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
…“

 

Well, it took me some seconds before I started laughing out loud. Either the airline had a good portion of humour or it was just letting me know that for the future had already begun. „Are we humans or are we dancers?“ Was that guy on the line a chatbot?

I will never forget the experience I had that day with the airline Call Centre! I only hope Call Centres will keep the touch of human frustration and empathy that this guy shared with me. And I am willing to wait for more than ten minutes for someone like him on the line.

In the meantime, with Circle4x we will support brands and companies to make sure that the experience we customers make when getting in touch with them, will stay human.

We need human experiences that are supported by digital tools and artificial intelligence. But we don’t need AI or digital solutions to get rid of human interactions. It is about making them interact in an intelligent way. So let’s create phygital experience for humans.