Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Human Touch

It is entirely possible to go through an entire day of customer service interactions and never encounter a human being.
  • In the morning, I need gas. I go directly to the pump, swipe my card, and complete the entire transaction.
  • I go to the ATM to check my balance and withdraw some cash. Later in the day, I'll call the 1-800 number and use the automated system to make sure a specific transaction has cleared.
  • I got turned around trying to find an address. I didn't pull over and ask a gas station attendant, I pulled over and pulled out my GPS.
  • That evening, I'll pay a few bills on line.
  • I have a question about a cable service, so I log into my account, and check the FAQ section to find my answer.
  • I need to buy some clothes and a few books. I won't bother going to the store, I can do it all online.
You get the point.

Since we do so much without human contact, it's important that we remember to be human when we talk to an actual human. Many of the more mundane and common interactions can be handled through some sort of automated phone tree or simple online service.

Yet when I encounter a problem, those automated services cannot help me, in fact, they can be downright infuriating. So when I finally get through to a person, it helps if they can give me something the automated services can't: empathy, understanding and help with a difficult problem.

In a world of automation, the human touch cannot be replicated, no matter how 'human' they try to make the automated voice sound. Only a human can be a human and that can make all of the difference in delivering a positive customer service experience.