What happened to the days of customer service when you dialed a number and actually got a person on the other line? I mean, how hard is it for someone to answer the phone and ask the person calling what their issues are and direct them to the appropriate person. It seems as though this personal touch has become antiquated with the introduction of technology. I know, like everything else in business it comes down to the mighty dollar. The monetary investment in technology has a far greater ROI than the ongoing costs associated with maintaining actual humans to provide customer service. But, does the ROI justify the soulless experience being provided by the companies that automate the entire process. I for one, plan to lead the charge to re-humanize customer service.
How many times have you received a phone or cable bill where the charges were incorrect and had to spend an hour or two on the phone being transferred from department to department trying to get an answer only to be disconnected and have to go through it all again. This is one of the most frustrating experiences of my work life. For example, I spent over 9 MONTHS on multiple phone calls to a certain telephone provider just trying to get our bill correct. It got to the point where I would call only to tell them what the correct amount should be, so they could update their system to expect the payment I sent. I would call the customer service number on my bill only to be told after a 10 minute long automated message I was directed to the wrong party and would have to be transferred. So literally, every time I called I had to be transferred 3 times and re-explain my story again and again. After a while, I had to mentally and emotionally prepare myself just to make the call. Sad isn’t it?
When did good old fashioned customer service go out of style? What happened to the mantra “The Customer is Always Right?” Having worked in the retail industry as well as professional services industries I can tell you without hesitation that good customer service is essential to keeping your customers happy and as a byproduct retaining their business. That’s why I am so perplexed at the methods used by the bigger organizations to take care of their customers.
The only real justification I can find for the automated customer service experience is improving the efficiency at which calls are directed to remove the need for multiple human interaction. This however comes at the cost of confusing menus and options, language choices and landing at customer service reps who don’t actually have the ability to help you, thereby forcing them to forward you to another department in the hope that they may be able to help. So in my opinion, creating more confusion by trying to be efficient than by placing value on the actual experience of the person calling in.
Given some of my most recent experiences dealing with telephone customer service I feel compelled to revolutionize how customer service is handled and actually provide the ability to press “0” and talk to a live customer service rep at any point. This may be a naïve and foolish approach to actually provide a customer experience that makes the customer feel important enough have a person help them. But in the end, I believe that the brand loyalty created by this human interaction will lead to a stronger brand and make up the ROI lost by automation at least ten fold.