As technology advances and businesses look to cut costs, fewer customer service requests are handled by real people. Think of this as the rise of the robot representative. But don’t be afraid. None of this means that you should avoid working with these tools. You just need to know how to use them to get the best service.
Do you still need human intervention?
Trying to reach a live customer service representative recently? Chances are, you’ll find yourself redirected to an FAQ page, an automated calling system, or an online forum with troubleshooting tips. Basically, you are being asked to use existing digital resources to fix the problem yourself. The reason is simple – money. Building even sophisticated digital tools and resource guides is still cheaper than paying teams of customer service representatives. “In some cases, companies deliberately make it more difficult to speak with someone,” says Michelle Kinch Shell, a visiting scholar at Harvard Business School who studied behavioral operations management.
It’s not as bad as it sounds. Digital resources have improved a lot. And they allow businesses to provide 24-hour support. “Well-designed FAQ pages, customer forums, and automated phone systems are really helpful,” says Jacob Hartog, a tech entrepreneur who has managed products for them. mobile banking and telehealth applications. “And, in many cases, faster than talking to someone on the phone.”
Many customer issues are common with easy-to-resolve questions like how to reset a password, find a specific form, make simple changes to a smartphone, get a replacement card, or restart a device. “From that perspective, it makes sense to use technology to automate repetitive tasks,” says Hartog. And after familiarizing themselves with these systems, many prefer them to live agents. “Customers continue to demand these better, faster and more flexible means of communication,” says Lisa Kant, vice president of product marketing at Zendesk, a customer service platform. “And traditional channels like voice, email or in-person service just aren’t enough. “
Many companies are even starting to offer support on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp. With no waiting time and no need to look up a phone number or wait on hold, “it’s convenient,” says Kant. But self-service is not appropriate for all matters, especially stressful ones. “When people are anxious, they crave human contact,” says Shell, citing research she conducted at Harvard Business School. For tasks where self-service isn’t enough – or if you’d rather just speak with a real representative – there isn’t always a simple solution. “Companies are not consistent with this,” Shell says. Some still offer call centers or on-site troubleshooting, while others do not. And even when you manage to find that phone number? The wait is likely to be long. “Accessing a human agent is an effort of patience,” says Shell.
One tip is to research a company’s customer service reputation before you buy. Check out Yelp reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings, and comments on social media. “Whether you prefer self-service, a help center, a chat, a mobile app, or a phone, you really want to research brands that are going to work,” says Kant.