Why your CX can’t afford to ignore the soft skills

2 minute read, posted on 10/02/2018, by Peter Mullen

Close-up image contrasting a call center agent's empathetic expression with the neutral features of a robot, highlighting the critical role of human soft skills in customer service.

It’s no secret that digital disruption across all industries is in full swing. 

And yet, regardless of improvements in technology or digitization, customers still want a human customer experience.

Harvard Business Review published an interesting article talking to this exact point around soft skills that are not yet ready to be offloaded to emerging technology.  

Here are three soft skills that HBR advocates won’t be replaced by technology anytime soon – and why they’re so important to your customer experience (CX). 

Emotional competence 

Despite the buzz around bots and self-service channels in travel and hospitality, there’s a real danger of organizations handing over their most valuable relationships to technology that’s not yet ready to handle them. When thinking about the different levels of emotional context, it’s clear technology can’t replace this essential human capability: 

“The most basic level of emotional competence is being able to recognize the emotions at play in the context of analysis and action. The next level is the ability to successfully intervene in an emotionally complex situation, when people are hurt or uncertain. At the highest level, emotional competence involves persuading individuals and groups by evoking emotion.” HBR, 2018. 


Historically, artificial intelligence (AI) has time and time again failed to understand relevant context. What begins merely as a “cute gimmick” – such as advertising delivered via social media – can quickly become a major frustration for customers. The reality is that we’re still miles away from technology providing the same level of contextual understanding that a human can – and travel and hospitality providers need to tread carefully in this area. 


HBR argues that while technology has made waves in education (e.g. online learning), it always has and will for the foreseeable future hinge on the way in which the human uses the technology. At VXI we couldn’t agree more, and we’re of the opinion that we need to be augmenting our agents with technology – not replacing them. That’s why we developed our own Training Simulator™ to empower and develop our agents into the best employees they can be – soft skills included. 

There’s no question that it’s important to weave technology into the fabric of your customer experience, but at the end of the day, it’s always been all about people. 

You need to work with partners who not only understand the value of soft skills – but champions them. Are your current partners up to scratch?

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