The Long & Winding Road: Speak to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Will any human please make themselves known to the customer please? 

I can’t be alone in being frustrated by some companies use of automation in customer service. Like most technological advances, we find them being used indiscriminately rather than thoughtfully. This happens because the ‘bean counters’ suddenly have calculator inspired moments of epiphany when they realise the cost savings by replacing humans with machines. I can hear the top brass defending the use of machines, citing the improvement of quality and consistency…well that is OK for manufacturing but it is not the case for customer service. 

Generally speaking we call a company for one of two things, either to order a product or service or to complain about a product or service. We call because we feel that our specific case would be better dealt with if we could actually speak with a human who could then help resolve the issue. Nothing too fanciful in that idea but how is it that speaking to human is so difficult nowadays? 

Watch this clip , filmed by the customer obviously so very frustrated by previous experiences;

I think we have all had calls like that call! 

The second layer of course in this seemingly unstoppable march of automation is the strange scenario when you actually DO get to speak with a human. I had this moment recently at a bank when I needed to question a series of transactions which I felt were incorrectly handled by the bank. Doing business in two countries can cause many ‘duh’ moments for banks, moments which they seem not to be able to acknowledge. I had the surreal situation of speaking with a lady at the bank, she then keyed in the information I had told her and replied that there was no problem! I had to go back step by step, illustrating the problem and trying to get her to understand. 

My fatal error was assuming that, firstly she cared and secondly she knew what to do. I was quite taken with the ‘rabbit in the headlight’ glazed eye look I was getting as I spoke, maybe it’s a technique they are taught to deal with customers who can see where they have slipped up! 

When I had exhausted the cerebral limits of this lady I was put onto a specialist phone line to discuss my complaint with someone sitting in an office many miles away. Much the same conversation ensued, all the time the keys of the computer were heard in the background as the answers were sought from the system. 

The sad thing in all this is that my issue was never resolved, the people put in the front line are patently under trained and are largely impotent when it comes to dealing with other people. Whilst the higher echelons of the institution may point to the fact that I could speak with a human they do not acknowledge that I would have had a more fruitful experience talking to a wall. 

The end result is that, in this instance, this organisation will lose my custom shortly when I am ready to make the change and secondly they will not only receive zero recommendations from me but they will get plenty of negative commentary from me as I move along throughout my business dealings. 

This is common in many companies, the vital chance to cement relationships by engaging with people on a personal level is lost. 

If you do nothing else this year in your efforts to improve your bottom line then do this: put people first, put good people first and support them both internally and at the customer contact point… the faith and interest you show in their work will pay dividends for longer than the you realise. 

see you on the long and winding road……. Patrick

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