Since the Covid virus struck the World, there has been global consequences from our health, our economy, inter personal stress and conflict to geo political confrontation, however, one thing that many of us took not necessarily for granted but as the norm was customer service.
In a variety of industries from Healthcare, to utilities, to insurance, to government departments, to your ISP provider, it all pretty much came crashing down when the virus struck. Understandably, many companies were now frantically trying to move as much of their business online and to a digital form as quickly as possible and as thoroughly as possible, however, one thing got left behind. You guessed it. Customer service.
In a survey using my Healthcare provider, my ISP, a domain sales and services company, my chemist (nationwide chain) I often could not get through to them, did not receive decent service or am still waiting to hear from them!
Let me be clear, I always try to be proactive. So I first tried to phone as long as they have telephonic customer support. This is what happened when I tried to phone:
- I got through to the automated IVR phone system, entered several prompts and was told there was very high call volumes and I was number three hundred and..I put down the phone before they could finish and
- The phone just rang and rang and rang and, well it never stopped and no one ever answered and
- I got through to the IVR phone system, entered the prompts, it rang and rang and then finally an automated voice came on saying ‘you have reached us outside of our operating hours. Please phone during..The only thing is that they apparently closed at 1700 hours and it was 1615 hours and
- Got through to the IVR system, while on hold listening to the most awful recorded message saying how wonderful their services were and then saying why dont you send us a Watsapp and we shall respond. Great I thought. I took the number and duly sent them a message and waited expectantly. A few seconds later, the response was please type your query. So, I spent 5 minutes being concise and too the point about my query and sent it still waiting expectantly. About 3 minutes later, an automated reply came saying hi I am a automated bot. Your query cannot be answered by me. Please phone our help desk on…
I was bubbling over with indignation and frustration. Did every corporate somehow forget that without client service, they don’t keep their customers they alienate them and sometimes even make them into their worst ambassadors? Apparently so. I could also list out the responses or lack there of from using Email, however, I do not wish to sport with the readers intelligence nor their patience. Suffice it to say that in a world gone mad and with lockdowns all over, one would think that the executives and customer experience officers would have remembered the vital cog in there business that is the Customer and that customers need some basic service.
How hard can it be to answer email queries remotely. Surely this is part of what Digital Nomads do the world over? and with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Technology such as Skype and Watsapp to name a few, why is it that calls cannot be routed to a decent home internet connection? and It’s an excellent idea to use text based systems which both Skype and Watsapp can handle, so why not create an Admin pool and route them on a first come first serve basis, clearly advising in your auto response that A. you have received the client’s message B. That due to the high volume your normal turn around time may be longer than usual and that a consultant will respond via text to the client’s query and C. last but not least provide them with a reference number. This is the basics. It’s not rocket science but it is just a little bit of planning and understanding the needs of your clients and working within the challenges and limitations created by the epidemic.
One thing you need to keep to the very minimum possible is using bots and supposedly automated or intelligent applications for answering or assisting clients. The first thing is they are certainly not intelligent. Intelligence is linked to one who is animated such as a human being or any creature that is alive and the second is, no matter how you word it. They just ain’t smart. At least at present, they cannot understand the most basic of queries, never mind anything relating to context which is 99% of human interaction and language. Oh, yes and less we forget, they irk any normal human being. I’m sure several people have had this or a similar experience where you get a automated system saying please say the word linked to your query. For example travel, so you say travel and the voice says, I’m sorry we could not understand what you said. Could you repeat that and it goes on and on without them ever twigging to what you want or when they just get it totally wrong and say you said claims and transfer you to the wrong place!
The good news is that there should be a lot of freelancers and outsourcing companies being created to handle the huge need for basic customer service that the traditional pre Covid companies apparently forgot to migrate into a digital form.
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