I’ve recently found that automated customer service is getting smarter.
The evolution occurred as consumers such as myself learned and exploited the system’s weaknesses. For instance, I could skip all of the “press ones for this” and “press sevens to repeat these options” by pressing zero—before the computer simulation of politeness could get a word in edgewise—to get to a real person.
Lately, though, I’ve been met with a new response. “I’m sorry. That is not an option. Press one if you’d like…”
To my surprise, the automated customer service world found an answer to its pesky customers who found a way past the system: Take away the zero!
As predicted by The Terminator, machines have begun taking over. However, instead of computers becoming self-aware and starting nuclear war, they have simply been allowed to dictate the direction of customer service. You will have a difficult time finding one person who has not encountered frustration with automation in the same way as I have.
And don’t even get us started on trying to speak our options to an automated customer assistant.
What strikes me as strange is that if an actual customer service representative received as many complaints, wouldn’t change be encouraged? Wouldn’t that employee face some kind of training or, with that many failures, expulsion?
Instead, the company changes the program so that the customer is forced to deal with that automated voice! UGH!
Now listen. I love technology. I am part of an amazing company that is changing the very face of PeriOperative Medicine with technology. The world is being made a more efficient and effective place, and people are becoming more empowered all the time through technology. And maybe that’s what I love the most about it: People being empowered.
The secret to the best customer service is something that computers have not yet been able to provide: empathy. Don’t get me wrong. Not all people are experts in this field, either, which is why the customer service professional must be carefully selected. Missing most from the world of support is the ability to understand not simply the words of a customer, but what the customer is experiencing.
Therein lies the secret to any good relationship – a relationship that can’t exist with automated messages. And isn’t that what every company ought to be seeking with its customers at all costs? Yes – a relationship. What better way could a company say, “We appreciate you” than with its own voice?
I actively seek the companies that do. I’m proud to work for a company whose ideal is to always seek out a real, personal relationship with each of its clients.