Carriers can blend automation with personal service to reach multiple generations and achieve a competitive edge.

The conflicting studies mentioned in the February 2008 commentary, “Don’t Look Too Far Ahead” by INN’s Senior Managing Editor Carrie Burns bring to light the ongoing debate between personal service and automation. As Burns noted, the TowerGroup Inc. research found an increasing demand from consumers for 24/7 electronic access to their financial services, while IBM’s recent survey of 1,000 American consumers showed the majority of respondents were very supportive of their agent-based service and planned to continue that relationship. Which presents the industry with a challenge: how to meeting the demand for automation while providing high-touch, personal service?

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