Customer service needs many things. It needs efficiency. It needs information and data. It needs to support an omnichannel world.
And it needs common sense.
Recently we have had some ‘interesting’ experiences with customer service. One experience highlighted that the new, pandemic driven, trend of leaving packages on doorsteps is flawed. In multi-tenancy buildings or colleges, a package lying on a doorstep is easy prey and very difficult to track down if it is taken by someone other than the addressee.
The latest experience makes it very obvious that customer service needs common sense and access to people, fast, if things get tricky.
We allowed a ‘chat’ with a telecoms company to go for two hours but only because there was a story in it and a good opportunity to have a rant about what customer service needs.
It is like every technology, whether it be chatbots or desktop publishing. Companies see the potential, implement it without thinking things through. And throw away the processes that worked, but were slow and inefficient.
Customer service needs to find that balance between technology and common sense.
Apart from anything else, the blanket automation of customer service will backfire as customers learn how to hack the system.
If you respond to the initial ‘tell us in a few words what you are calling us about today’ with ‘renew a contract’ you will indeed spend two hours of your life wrestling with a chat system. And you will be frustrated.
What you do is answer with the word ‘leaving’, ‘complaint’ or ‘unhappy’ and, lo and behold you will suddenly be talking to that elusive human.
Of course, customer service needs to be supported by technology and needs to support technology. And, yes, we are entering the omnichannel world that has been hyped for several years. To succeed until we are there, customer service needs to support customers who want to talk, customers who do not want to interact with technology and even customers who still want to write a letter.