The End Of Customer Service? I Don’t Buy It

Time Magazine just published “10 Ideas That Are Changing The World.” One of the items on the list was ‘The End of Customer Service.” The article describes the rise of self-service technologies like airport kiosks, pump-your-own gas, and new wireless capabilities as the end to human-assisted service.

My take: I disagree. There’s no question that self-service is on the rise and that consumers will be doing more things via the Web, phones, kiosks, and other devices. Consumers can handle many of these simple interactions on their own; often times as well as, or maybe even better than, going through another person.

But does that mean that customer service is dead? No! The following five issues will ALWAYS keep human-assisted service alive:

  1. Some interactions are too emotional
  2. Some topics are too complicated
  3. Some self-service is not easy to use
  4. Some people can’t self-serve
  5. Some people don’t want to self-serve

Given the push for self-service, though, there’s an opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves by going against the tide and beefing-up their human assistance. That’s why I defined “service infusion” and “service amplification” as two of the five disruptive customer experience strategies.

The bottom line: Don’t trash your customer service agents, embrace them.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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