Customer service is an integral part of any successful business. There will be times when you are unable to answer your phone and some services or questions that require a phone call. Some businesses have turned to automated systems to diffuse some of the questions. However, I think that most of the time, they have missed the boat.
The Technology Smart Customer
For customers like myself who live on Google, we have already been to the website. If we are looking for current balance information from a bank, credit card company or insurance company, we have probably already looked it up. If we have not been able to find the information we seek online, we will call. But we want to speak to a person.
If we are calling a retail business, we have also checked that out online in advance and looked up any product information that we need. If we call your business at that point, there is probably something that we cannot accomplish online and we need to speak to a person.
If we call a restaurant, we have checked out your menu, your hours of operation, and double-checked your location. We may even have looked for an online order or reservation system. If we call your restaurant, we need to speak to a person.
The Technology Challenged Customer
My father-in-law is 89. He bought a computer two years ago but never uses it. His career was in utilities and he is very savvy but he is not a technology geek and will never become one. Like many of your customers, he is not going to your website. He counts on mailed statements, advertising in newspapers, and customer service on the phone. When he calls the bank, he doesn’t want to jump through 15 stages (press 1 for….), he wants to speak to a person. No matter who he calls, he wants to speak to a person. No matter how much information you automate for him, you will make him mad. He wants to speak to a person.
Why I hate automated systems
This morning I called a financial company because I have to speak to a person to transfer funds from them. The computer voice that answered didn’t understand me. It would not release to customer service when I said customer service. Pressing zero (0) didn’t get me out of the loop to get me to a human voice. I had to find a way to get it to cooperate.
By the time I accomplished my goal of speaking to a person, I was furious. Is your goal to make money? For most companies, the answer is yes. Are you investing in advertising, customer research, detailed studies to find out how to build more business?
Here’s a clue. You want more business. Hire a human to answer your phone or at least provide an easy way to opt out of your phone system and reach a human.
You are losing more customers from your automated system than you might know. Is it worth the cost-savings? I love technology and you could get voice mail at my office if I cannot answer the phone but guess what? A human (me) will call you back. Most of the time I answer my phone unless I am with a customer or in a meeting or otherwise indisposed.
How about you? Who do you want to talk to on the phone? I bet it’s not a computer!