In a recent publication in European Business Review, Fernanda Arreola, professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship at EMLV describes the value of the human interaction in B2B and B2C environments. While automation and technology change our ways of consuming, the humans behind the service providers have become invisible.
In this article, Fernanda Arreola, and Alfonso Castaneda tackle the reverse side of the efficiency and technological progress: we perceive the value of humans in service differently according to the environment we’re in or the situation we’re facing. A perspective on the value of service in B2B and B2C sectors.
Services have become invisible to customers in B2B and B2C
For customers in B2B and B2C environments, the true providers of the services they consume have become invisible. In this review, we gather the opinions of service providers and service managers in the airline, banking, telecommunications, beauty, education, retail, packaging and automotive sectors.
Our interviews and supportive research allow us to gather very important insights and to contextualize certain realities of the importance and value that is given to service in each sector. We finish by pointing to some key factors that may encourage leaders to recognize the value of services, in order to take service excellence back into their strategies for the future.
Invisible Service Providers – A side effect of efficiency and technological progress?
In this article we define “service invisibility” as an evolving trend that, thanks mostly to technological advancements we now have, has significantly reduced the interaction with the people who provide or create the services we consume and buy.
Many years ago, it would have been impossible to do a bank transaction without queuing, filling a slip and interacting with a teller. Today, this process would be difficult to explain to an adolescent. Many sectors have been highly touched by such digital revolution. Banking, insurance, travelling, entertainment and telecommunications, have partially or fully automated many of the once humanly-driven operations, giving the illusion to customers that technology is their new service provider.
What is inside of this illusion is that, even when technology is the face to the customer, it is still humans that conceive and make the delivery of these services available. As an interviewee in the retailing sector signalled, companies went from people gathering data for consumption studies directly at the supermarkets, to analyzing huge piles of data captured through the use of loyalty and easy-shopping cards.
In the banking sector, tellers were replaced by IT specialists that must make sure that sufficient computer power and cybersecurity are available to make online banking safe and possible. For telecommunications companies, humans have to create powerful automated call centers and chatbots in order to respond to never-ending demands and requests from customers.
Automation and technology have taken people out of our view and this has led to a very concrete situation: we are becoming less aware of the value of humans in service. This is not very obvious in our daily activities, with three exceptions to the rule: when we want to feel what we are acquiring is special (or luxurious), when we face a problem that seems too specific and when we want to ask for help or advice.
Click here to read more.