Please don’t de-humanise customer service

Please don’t de-humanise customer service

by Martin Newman


Posted on Friday 31st January 2020



"I fully appreciate that consumer-facing businesses are trying to cut costs, but you cannot afford to do that at the expense of the customer. As that is a completely false economy." 

Despite many organisations talking about being customer first or, putting the customer at the heart of all they do, they are making it increasingly difficult for us to contact them directly. We’ve all been there. You call the contact centre and you end up on this automated call answering system. Press 1 for this and 2 for that and 3 for the other! Then, you’re often met with another layer of options.

If you’re really lucky, after about 5 mins you might actually get through to a human being. And sometimes when you do, the call centre is another country entirely and you just know that there’s going to be a total inability to resolve anything for you. Add to this, many consumer-facing brands are removing the ability for you to email them.

They’d rather you ‘chatted’ online through live chat. The issue with that is that in most cases nowadays, you’re actually ‘chatting’ to a chatbot! Otherwise known as Artificial intelligence. Well, there’s nothing wrong with my intelligence, and it most certainly isn’t artificial. So, if I want or need help from customer service, I expect that to come from a real-life person. Be that over the phone, via email or face-to-face.

I fully appreciate that consumer-facing businesses are trying to cut costs, but you cannot afford to do that at the expense of the customer. As that is a completely false economy. All you will do is drive the customer away. In the trade, we call that ‘customer churn’. I can genuinely never understand the mentality of a business which sells to consumers and doesn’t get this.

After all, we’re all consumers. We’ve all suffered our fair share of really poor levels of service. It honestly feels to me as though some brands are going out of their way to make it as hard as possible for you and me to contact them. How can that possibly be a recipe for success? Why would you expect to increase the customer's propensity to engage with you when you treat them with such disdain?

I’ve never yet come across a business where technology and artificial intelligence can provide better, more relevant, more personalised levels of service than human beings. The bottom line is that as consumers, you have the power. We live in an increasingly democratised world. The power is at the click of a mouse or voting with your feet. Or, even worse, telling your friends and family on social media about the terrible experience you went through at the hands of a consumer brand.

That is why Customer Service Action exists. Not because we want to give brands a hard time. Moreover, we want to help them. And we’re doing this by providing consumers with a platform to express their criticisms or gratitude toward a brand. All of which will provide insight that should enable the brands to do a far better job of serving you in the future.