People are busy. Every day is an overload of information, marketing, work, traffic and fast food. Whatever scraps left over from the day are called “me time” or “family time.” This is one reason why kids are insufferable these days. When neglected and left to their own (electronic, social networking) devices, they turn into monsters.
The time crunch of 21st century living has mostly killed the necessity (or even the option) of face-to-face contact. It makes me sad. But just a little. I have a report to finish. A blog entry to write. There’s no time to finish today’s to-do list, let alone mourn the death of chit chat with my grocer or a conversation with a live customer service agent.
I’m all about efficiency these days. If I can shave 30 seconds off my trip to Kroger by ringing up my own razor blades, I shave them so I can shave sooner. If I can access my account through IVR and bypass my goofy bank teller, I listen to the voice prompts and get on with my day, even though he is a hoot.
And you’re probably the same way. You’re busy. Self-service sounds like a great idea if you can keep it moving. But here’s the problem: To keep it moving, the application needs to work. The kiosk at Kroger works, the ATM works; people are comfortable helping themselves, buying, when it’s easy. Over the phone, it’s not easy. This is why people are angry, and this is why companies are paying the price.
Emily Yellin’s book Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us is an epic screed of customer disillusionment, chock full of businesses dropping the ball as if coated in Crisco. At GM Voices, we’re constantly pounding the point of an improved customer experience. What we do here, giving automated applications a clear, natural, brand-consistent sound, is a small but essential part of avoiding that fumble. You need a good call flow, a good script; you need to pick your battles. Which tasks are appropriate for automation? Which require Carl from the call center?
Lots of companies haven’t figured this out. They can’t discern. It’s why they’re getting lit up for $7.50 per phone call (the cost of a customer opting out of a self-service application for a live agent). People want to help themselves. It’s fast! Companies want people to help themselves. It’s cheap! As in a few cents. This should be something everyone can agree on: Fix the phone, watch the savings.
People are busy. Give ‘em what they want. Just do it right.