Over the years, we’ve talked a lot about ensuring that it is easy for your customers to reach you and to interact with you. From prominently displaying multiple channels through which to contact you on your website, to logical phone trees (or live operators), to clearly developed FAQ’s that are easy to find on your website, there are a lot of opportunities to remove barriers to service. And an efficient service experience does not provide the customer with time to become upset with reaching you in addition to whatever is fueling their need to contact service in the first place. But what if a convenience feature is actually proving to be a hindrance?
Customers’ lives are rapidly changing, so the way they conduct errands, like contacting customer service, is as well. Years ago, a customer calling in would either be at home or at the office. They could set aside a quiet time for the call. Today’s world is very different. Increasing personal obligations along with work demands, coupled with the convenience of the cell phone, result in customers squeezing in a call to us in the car, on the subway, while walking down the street, while picking up children from school, or any number of other “extra” minutes in their days.
This hurried lifestyle, where every minute counts, is meant to be addressed by “smart” phone systems that can collect basic customer information before connecting with a representative or ensure a call is routed to the correct person. However, high tech voice recognition systems can be the antithesis of helpful when the customer finds himself in a noisy environment. Perhaps you’ve seen the cartoon passed around social media where a mother is desperately trying to respond to voice prompts while her children chase her and yell out random words, causing her call to be routed every direction but the one she needs. The cartoon is popular because it touched upon a universal nerve for customers: “easy” service that can become anything but!
While integrating technology can be a blessing to both our companies and to our customers, it is crucial that technology is actually improving our customers’ experience rather than forcing them into a one-size-fits-all funnel that may actually fail a great number of them. In the case of the voice recognition system, it’s counter intuitive, but the best option is to allow customers to opt out of the new feature by retaining the old one, especially for our youngest, busiest customers. Even cable companies, widely known for lower service standards, are integrating an upfront touch tone option to stop using the voice recognition system.
By recognizing this need for a large swath of customers, we can make sure that our customers are truly in the driver’s seat for how they personally prefer to receive service. In turn, we will have happier, less frustrated customers when we come on the line.