I am a great lover of new technology, but only when it makes people’s lives easier or more enjoyable. In a connected world, you can find just about any form of goods or services with a google search and a few clicks. That side of life is superb, especially if you are looking for something niche or esoteric. Where I hate technology is when it is used for the sake of it or to keep people at bay.
Sometimes, your enquiry has a bit more nuance than just searching for the right item in the right size and clicking the add to basket button. Sometimes you want to talk through the options with something or someone who has passed the Turing test. The last thing many companies want is for you to speak to a real life human being. Human beings are comparatively expensive, even on minimum wage or on the other side of the world in a sweatshop.
They would rather hide their phone numbers and when you look for more assistance, direct you to a glorified FAQ page with the things that people commonly ask. They are missing the point. The whole reason you want to speak to someone is because you have a question that’s not that common. If it were, whatever it was you sought would be in plain sight.
Sometimes they use a chat mechanism. Despite the message on the website saying there are umpteen agents available, you click to link to open up a session, only to be told that the site is waiting for the next available operator. If there are so many agents available, why do I have to wait? Then, eventually, a window opens and the agent introduces themselves.
“Hello, my name is Derek. How can I help you?”
I feel like typing in “Your name’s not Derek at all. Can you get a real human being to phone me on this number”.
Of course I don’t. I play the game and type in my enquiry. I then wait… and wait. Because “Derek” or whoever it is has loads of different chat windows open talking to many people at once. First you get radio silence. Then you get “Derek is typing a response”. Either Derek only has one finger or he’s a rubbish typist because it takes him ages to type his terse reply in the form of an open-ended question. I appreciate the need for businesses to keep costs down, but I can’t imagine a more detached sales channel.
Surely it’s worth lavishing a little more attention on a potential prospect?
I couldn’t agree more – 9 times out of 10 I’d rather not talk to anyone 🙂 – but when you need to it’s almost impossible! One automated phone service actually said, “I’m sorry you appear to be having problems with our automated service, goodbye.” and then cut me off!
Don’t get me started on IVR systems – make the world a better place, if you are going to have one, make the very first option “Speak to a human being”.
I worked on the telephony systems, it used to be you could hit zero or nine and bypass the teabags to get to an operator. It was when not everyone had a tone phone (yeah I know) however I think now that option has been removed from many systems.
Like you said, too expensive to train someone intelligent in the product line.
A correct balance of providing “direct” access to call a “real human being” and at the same time, having a extremely high quality remote assistance using cloud is what is required. As a customer this could not be accepted, but as a business owner, it surely makes sense to have both, but working correctly.
This is why I have stayed with first direct since 1989 , you get a human.
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2014 18:31:43 +0000 To: email@example.com