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 an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

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