Customer service may be difficult to get right, but why is it still so bad?

customer service
Image by DimaBerlin | Bigstockphoto

Customer service, one of the table stakes in the next wave of technology, is still lagging behind the hype spouted by CEOs, who care passionately about their customers and care very little about their multi-million-dollar pay package. Apparently.

Even the very biggest of big (one might say Amazonian) of tech companies is still getting it wrong in customer service.

Praised for its ease of use, its speed of delivery, its cutting edge returns policy, when something goes wrong, it falls over and causes irritation, to say the least.

A very regular customer of this awesome beast of a company ordered a book to be sent to her godson at University.

It never arrived, and after some reasonably easy tracking work by the customer, it turned out that the book had been signed for by someone else. At a University or office block, this must happen all the time.

The customer went onto the help section, could not see anything that helped and started a conversation with a chatbot. As with many interactions with a chatbot, it was frustrating. Stock answers were presented, most of which were irrelevant to the point of amusement.

Eventually, the chatbot, exhausted by the effort, no doubt, asked if the customer would like to be transferred to a human ‘associate’. Yes, please, she typed.

What happened then, in customer service terms, was bizarre.

The customer was not transferred. Instead, the system called her mobile. A digitised voice asked her to enter a three-digit code to talk to a human. She entered the code, and the digitised voice paused before announcing that there was no record of that transaction and cutting her off.

Five times.

The book is still at large, no doubt being enjoyed by some random student who has no desire to track down its real owner.

The customer ended up re-ordering the book. It was easier and certainly cheaper in time to do that than to continue to battle with unintuitively implemented technology.

Of course, this is a rant about bad customer service, and of course, it is not easy to make technology do what the customer wants and expects because they are such unpredictable beasts. And stock answers presented by a chatbot will always irritate rather than satisfy.

The technology market can talk about AI and chatbots and omnichannel customer service until the cows come home, are milked and sent back out. Still, it has to keep one thing in mind when designing its cutting edge customer service systems and processes.

The customer.

A good starting point, as our friends over at Cerillion recommend, might be a book on consumer psychology written by a Harvard professor who clearly has the same view about customer service as we do.

Related article:

Voice may be dominant in customer service, but the future is omnichannel

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