Great customer service is extremely rare and is not about cool new tools. It is about common sense and empathy.
The reason that it is depressing is that all of us, including the execs who see it as a priority, are all customers. We all know what we want from a company and we all know how we would like those companies to act when we want a problem solved.
It has to be fast, friendly and efficient.
The reaction of executives, however, is (normally) to throw technology at the problem and make noises about implementing AI to improve the customer experience.
Which it doesn’t.
Common sense should dictate how and when technology is used and, by itself, it simply cannot lead to great customer service.
A few recent examples make the point.
After a recent storm, the Wi-Fi had gone out. The relevant service provider published a number, clearly, on a prominent page of its website. Once you have identified yourself, via an automated system, the provider sent a text, and asked you to hang up and continue via the text stream.
Cynical and suspicious, we did so and the whole exercise took less than five minutes. An engineer was on site two days later and sent a text saying he was working on the line and he would text again when service was back. It was and he did.
Not so the mobile service provider.
A simple (you would think) case of renewing a contract took two hours.
A chatbot gave way, eventually, to a human chatting via the chat service. We had to be transferred three or four times and each time we had to prove that we were who we are.
That company will, frankly, never have anything approaching great customer service because cutting costs is more of a priority than keeping customers happy.
The gaps between questions and answers were universally five or so minutes, which is an unacceptable wait time. We know that research has proved that an agent can manage about 12 open chats with customers.
We also know that all 12 customers will be frustrated and irritated. Because research is not intuitive.
And in that case is just plain wrong.
Great customer service comes from conversations with customers, backed up by having the right information to hand. Throwing technology at the problem is exactly what a company should not do.
The bad news for those companies who are ‘passionate’ about great customer service is just how much more demanding new, younger customers are going to be.
It is time for companies to invest in great customer service not just talk about it, while playing buzzword bingo in front of stakeholders.