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'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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