Automation may be the way of the CRM future, but marketers—and consumers—still value human interaction. Maintaining a balance between the two in a digital world is proving difficult, a new study found, as marketers struggle to use tools efficiently.

Scaling Human Interaction in Customer Experiences” is a study conducted by Harvard Business Review (HBR) Analytic Services and sponsored by live marketing experience provider ON24. A total of 282 readers of HBR completed a survey in November that explores the relationship between automated CRM and in-person customer service.

Maintaining a human element in a customer experience is highly valued by marketers, with 80 percent claiming that this approach gives their organization a distinct competitive edge. As brands invest in data and technology to keep up with consumer demands, however, 60 percent of marketers surveyed admitted that it’s difficult to replicate face-to-face experiences with customers by using digital technologies.

While 58 percent of respondents named CRM as one of the top three technology investments for their organizations, only 36 percent report significant returns. Similarly, social media monitoring and communication management topped the list in terms of investment but only 27 percent reported any significant ROI.

It’s not that technology ruins the customer experience, but you have to know what you’re going for, suggests Christine Jacobs Pribilski, vice president of worldwide marketing for IBM Cloud in the report.

“Often companies tend to buy point solutions or tools in the absence of an overall customer experience strategy,” said Pribilski. “That can potentially limit the impact on the ROI that a company sees.”

About half of respondents say their organizations are trying to create personalized experiences but are still struggling. The top reasons for this include siloed organizational structure, a lack of interoperability between technology systems and a lack of resources.

It’s not surprising that CRM technology providers have conducted many surveys like this one that illustrates a need for brands to seek help for reaching customers. When it comes to a desire for human interaction, however, the customers have spoken. A recent report by Invoca found that around half of consumers across generations would rather speak to a human being than an automated system, especially when it comes to making stressful purchase decisions.