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:
Some interactions are too emotional
Some topics are too complicated
Some self-service is not easy to use
Some people can’t self-serve
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.