Has technology improved the customer experience in most companies?

Has voice mail, phone trees, email and other technologies improved YOUR experience as a customer?

Has technology improved the customer experience in most companies?

The quality of customer service is determined by many factors. Technology (voice mail, computer based data gathering, etc), unfortunately, has been a double edged sword when it comes to the improvement of customer service. While it has allowed better access to information and data, so that customer service representatives can, at least theoretically, access information useful to help customers (e.g. product information, availability, etc), it has probably not results in better customer service overall.

One of the reasons is clear. Companies have implemented technological solutions to “improve” customer service, not to complement human involvement, but to REPLACE human involvement. Or to reduce the expertise needed by the actual human beings that interact with customers. So, for example, a customer service representative can consult a computer based data base to retrieve product information for a customer, but is completely unable to provide anything further — for example, personal experience with the product or product line, real recommendations tailored to a customer’s needs, and so on.

The reliance on technology has also almost entirely eliminated the ability of customer service staff to figure out what’s gone wrong, when something goes wrong. For example, if you make a hotel reservation and it gets “lost” the best explanation you are likely to get from the hotel reception desk is that there was “some sort of computer glitch”, which is hardly helpful. Since they don’t understand, or have access to the inner workings of the computer, they are stuck.

Of course, all of us are familiar with computers that aren’t working, voice mail that drives us crazy, and customer service staff who’s sole ability to help relies on pushing a button on a computer.

The upshot is that, for the most part, technology has not resulted in a huge improvement in customer service, and it has contributed to a customer perception that customer service gets worse the more it relies on technology.

That’s not to say that technology can’t help, but that it’s usually not implemented in a way that WILL help.

Author: Robert Bacal

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