Automation is DeadThursday, April 28, 2011
It’s a familiar frustration: that moment where you hit a roadblock with a product or a service, and you need some kind of help. You get stuck browsing through lengthy FAQs and forums, or you’re forced to dial a 1-800 number only to be faced with an overwhelming list of automated support options. All you really want is to be connected with someone who can help!
Think back to the last time you placed a support phone call and were forced to listen to an automated menu. When the call ended, did you feel satisfied? Refreshed? Enthusiastic about the company you were dealing with?
As customers, we find these nameless, faceless robots supremely frustrating. So why do we turn around and put our clients through the same thing? There are many areas where automation makes life easier: things like renting a DVD, washing a car, or depositing a paycheck. Even though you might want to harness the spirit of these automated times in an effort to improve your bottom line, a “hands off” approach to customer service will leave your business scrambling to catch up with the competition.
It’s time to do a cost-benefit analysis of the types of support you offer your clients. While human-driven support might come with a price tag, offering only automated assistance will surely frustrate and alienate those you are attempting to serve. Here are just a few reasons you shouldn’t let your business be run by robots:
Your people are your best asset.
You’ve worked to create your corporate culture. You’ve spent countless hours training your team, and you trust them. Why leave customer care in the hands of a machine? Give your customers access to the most valuable resource: your employees.
Nobody likes jumping through hoops.
Okay, sure, there are several reasons why automating your customer support might seem to make sense. By forcing people to sit through an automated menu, you’re preventing valuable employee resources from being wasted on questions that are answered on your website. Or you’re helping clients become more self-assured by pushing them to be resourceful.
But in the brief time it takes for you to field one of these “wasteful” calls, your clients are able to have their frustration allayed and get right back on track to positively using your product. This tiny bit of human-driven support is guaranteed to leave a positive impression.
Sometimes clients just need a sympathetic ear.
There are entire websites dedicated to sharing tips and tricks for getting a human on the line when making a customer service call. People appreciate being heard, and allowing your clients to articulate their user experience is a proven way to build brand loyalty.
Customer feedback helps you deliver a stronger product.
Providing personalized support is an ideal way to remain knowledgeable about your customers and gauge responses to your product. Hearing firsthand feedback from the people who use your product is a great way to constantly improve your business and generate new ideas.
Interaction with a human being creates confident customers.
Quality service and support means not only helping customers when things go wrong, but ensuring them that things generally go right. In offering personalized support, you are illustrating an extreme degree of confidence in your own product.
In your business, save automation for the payroll and the vending machines in the employee break room. When it comes to providing first-class support for your clients, pick up the phone and let them know that your business is run by human beings.