Is Technology Killing Customer Service?

Have you ever gotten the feeling that technology is making things more complicated and more time consuming despite claims to the contrary?  Don’t get me wrong, I love technology – I can’t imagine my life without the internet, email, cell phones, etc. – but at the same time, I feel like it has made some aspects of my life worse.

For example, I believe that technology has absolutely killed customer service.  One would think that advances in technology should have made customer service better, but at this point, I beg to differ.

Here’s why:

  • Most customer service seems to be handled electronically and is hardly ever done face to face.  Call me crazy, but if I ever have an issue with something or I need to speak with someone regarding concerns I may have, I want to handle it face to face.  Worse case scenario, I’d like to resolve everything via a phone conversation.  However, I don’t want to sit at my computer and trade emails with someone.  The other day I wanted to speak with someone about returning some broken computer speakers that were still under warranty, however when I went to the manufacturer’s website I was directed to send an email to a customer service rep who would in turn respond to me within 24 hours.
  • Most customer service systems are automated.  If you’re fortunate enough to find a customer service phone number, chances are after you’ve dialed the number you’re going to have to sit through 3 minutes of automated options.  I find few things in life more annoying than having to sit and listen to, “Press one for English.  Numero dos para espanol…” (Sorry, I can’t figure out how to get the tilda above the n).
  • Customer service has become impersonal.  ATMs, self-scanning checkout at the grocery store, paying at the pump, etc., have essentially replaced people with machines.  I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot more comfortable dealing with a person than I do dealing with some computer.
  • You’re just a number.  All of the above items make me believe that when I’m dealing with a company, I’m just a number to them.  They want to shuffle me along in an orderly fashion, have to deal with me as little as possible and then send me on my way.

Now I know some of you will say that it’s actually good customer service to have all of these things available to us.  On some level, I have to agree, because we do in fact use all of these automated systems and we’d probably all be upset if they were magically taken away from us.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I still believe customers should be dealt with on a face to face basis as much as possible, and should be treated with some level of reverence.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should go out of business to keep your customers happy, but I think if you go the extra mile to deal with them on a personal level it certainly won’t hurt your overall business.  Chances are it’ll probably help.

For example, let’s look at Jay Ellison, executive vice president of U.S. Cellular, and his “no email Fridays” decree.  Nearly two and a half years ago, Ellison began enforcing this email ban as a way of fostering better employee and customer relationships – and, amazingly, it’s worked.  Coworkers who couldn’t pick one another out of a lineup got to know each other, and employees began to develop better relationships with their customers.

Long story short, while technology has improved many aspects of our lives, it’s absolutely killing customer service.  If you run a business or have constant contact with your customers, every once in a while pick up the phone or set up a face to face meeting as opposed to shooting off another email.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Comments

  1. I half agree. I’m about to call Comcast for the 5th time and will surely sit on hold for at least a half hour while they try to figure out the same thing that I keep telling them over and over.

    On the other hand, I don’t want to walk into a gas station to pay the guy and stand in line between 20 other people who are buying packs of gum. Maybe moving to NJ is the answer to that statement?

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    Is Technology Killing Customer Service?

    While technology has improved many aspects of our lives, it ’s absolutely killing customer service. If you run a business or have constant contact with your customers, every once in a while pick up the phone or set up a face to face meeting as opp

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