Technology is preventing us from connecting
I remember not too long ago, we could just pick up the phone to solve a problem. Now, it seems like real-time problem solving is a thing of the past.
No longer is there live support. Phone numbers have been replaced by chat bots which lead you down a labyrinth of questions until you either get frustrated communicating or forget why you went to the site and move on.
The Age of the Machine
The first improvement came in the form of automated voice navigation which was supposed to help guide us to find answers to common questions. Most us have now learned to shortcut the system by just punching the extension numbers in the right sequence.
Then came Chat Bots to the rescue. But this only moved the distraction from our ears to our eyes…with the end result much the same
Too many clicks
Too much time waiting
Redundant data entry
This is just a technological rendition of what Charles Darwin discovered centuries earlier:
Evolution through adaptation by Competition
I remember my first day on the job at Netflix when I learned that our entire email support team would be eliminated from Hillsboro, Oregon. I was baffled until I understood their culture around user experience. Any company today must compete against the Netflix model in order to to acquire and retain customers — get to know them. That brings along all the data infrastructure for collecting and interpreting data or what we call Analytics today. Marketing has learned to listen first before talking!
Listen to your customers to understand how to serve them
Management consultants like to use fancy terminology like ‘Customer 360’ and 'Customer Journey mapping' when they talk about digital transformation but what they are really talking about is common sense.
Nowadays live chat is sometimes so well hidden that it seems like most companies simply want to hide from bad news and continue to believe they have a good product. They orchestrate user flow through a labyrinth of diverting navigation paths weeding out everyone except the most persistent and skillful hunters who are able to bypass the confusing network of FAQ articles and user generated Q & A’s in help forums to reach the end of the search which leads to an email form. If one is lucky, a response may arrive a few days later with a link to back the FAQs.
All that work to end up where you started
However, this time a clue is left behind…the email return address! Through this door one may finally reach a real, live person! But the majority of customers have probably all ready fallen out of the funnel by now.
A Conversion funnel is designed to make $$$ for the company
A Support funnel is designed to save $$$ for the company
A positive Customer Experience leading to brand advocacy is easily undone by being overshadowed by negative one leading to abandonment…the brand logo is the index to retrieve that memory. Technology is devoid of emotion but in order to understand people, technology needs to embrace emotion — which is very difficult to quantify? That is the essence of data science.
I believe Customer Experience starts from the very first recognition of a new logo which is then shaped throughout each individual’s journey with the brand — browsing online, waiting through commercials across all screens (billboard, TV, online, mobile) with in-store visits solidifying those impressions, hopefully with a enjoyable first purchase! It continues through product registration (or product return) and every visit presenting fresh opportunities to strike a deeper emotional response.
Every Customer Interaction is an Opportunity
I have many sets of Bluetooth headphones — ones for home, work. Headphones for listening to podcasts, for meditating, for travel. My favorites are my Otium headphones. They’re comfortable, look modern, are easily foldable fitting perfectly inside its carrying case and have superb low frequency noise-cancelling. I bought them through Amazon. I emailed customer service to see if there *might* be a warranty on them even though I definitely did not have the sales receipt nor had any idea when I bought them. Not only did Amazon (a reseller) say they were within warranty but they would send me a replacement immediately!
Like Netflix, Amazon understands the importance of customer service — people who know how to connect to people. They get it. They know why customers are pissed off having to do something they did not plan. They understand that people are busy. They agree that something simple should not become a challenging or frustrating nightmare.
Until the machines handle understand human emotion please keep people for customer service! Customers just want to
Get on with life