Customer Service–To Automate Or Not?



Has the following scenario ever happened to you?
You call up a customer service number because you either have a question or a complaint. However, before you get to speak to a real live person, you have to go through a series of voice prompts BEFORE you get a real live customer service rep. Oftentimes, I’ve come across automated voice systems that seem to either “hesitate” before giving you the option to speak to a customer service rep or provide that option dead last. It’s as if they don’t want to provide that option.  Why is this so?

Could be several reasons–my best guess is:
1. The company is hoping your question or complaint will be solved with automated responses.
2. the company is hoping your question or complaint will be answered in the FAQ section.
3. It is more cost effective for the company to make its customer service system more automated.

In other words, they don’t have to hire as many customer service reps to answer the phone (A computer doesn’t get sick and can work 24/7)


My Pet Peeves

 My Pet Peeves

One of my biggest pet peeves with automated customer service systems is that the voice prompts are too long. I often find myself forgetting which number I’m supposed to pick after listening to the entire choice of prompts. If I forget, I choose listen to the entire choice of prompts a second time for fear of choosing the wrong prompt and not being able to correct my mistake. If that happens, I have to hang up and repeat the whole process. That is soooooooo frustrating…


Here’s another pet peeve. When you first dial the customer service number, you may have the option of either using your voice or using the keypad on your touch-tone phone to activate the prompts. Whenever I choose to use the voice-activated prompts, the computer never understands what I say, even though I speak slowly and clearly. Therefore, I end up using my phone keypad to activate the prompts.


I know we now live in a world that is becoming more and more automated and computerized.  I might be “old school” but I believe that nothing beats real person to person customer service. It may be possible that the younger generation (ie. Milennials) is more comfortable with automated customer service than the older generation (ie. Baby Boomers).  Nevertheless, if a company wants to provide quality customer service, it should be provided in a way that appeals to all of its customers. Sometimes the fastest most cost-effective way to provide customer service may not be the best way.


To Automate or Not to Automate? That is the Question


To answer the question as to whether customer service should be mainly automated or live, I think companies should provide sufficient options that appeal to all customer types, such as:
1.  email
2.  instant messaging (chat box)
3.  live telephone support
Believe it or not, there are still some people in the world who hate email and avoid using a computer as much as possible. Therefore, the phone option would be most suitable for them.


What do people value most in regards to customer service?     



Customer Service clipart

  • Quick response time
  • Professionalism
  • Respect

If a company can provide what its customers value most, then that company should be commended and should also do its best to keep it going.

I would love for you to provide your comments or thoughts on this matter because I would like to know how others feel about this issue. Remember–happy customers are returning customers who may also bring referrals. Therefore, if you own a business (either online or brick and mortar), this is something that you must consider if you truly value your customers.

To your success,

If you enjoyed reading this post, feel free to read my other post regarding customer service by clicking here.

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