Automation and customer service

We’ve all been on the phone to the cable/satellite/electric company, furiously navigating endless voice menus, endlessly pressing 0 for a real live human being.

When is automation a good customer service strategy? That’s the question Leo Bottary, a Hill & Knowlton VP, asked today.

Since I hate to write (or do) something and only use it once, here was my comment:

Knowing what to automate and how to automate is the key.

That’s a simple statement, but what does it mean? Here’s a simple rubric: are you automating to meet your needs or to meet your client’s needs?

If the former, you’re almost certain to negatively impact customer service and customer perception of your company. If the latter – and truly the latter – you run the risk of being a truly great, customer-friendly company.

Example: I’m always getting a new computer or having a hard drive crap out, which means I’m always transfering apps to my new computer.

It’s always a pain to deal with software licensing, which I never keep good track of because it’s boring and tedious and detail-oriented, all of which I hate.

But one company, Ambrosia Software (from whom I purchase Snapz Pro – a video screen capture utility) offers an email license code service. Simply send an email from the address with which you purchased your software and they’ll send you a new license code, having looked you up in their database.

Simple and extremely fast – almost instant – meaning great customer service.

Note that this is right for them – a technology company. It may not be right for a cappacino machine manufacturer.

Just speaking personally, I hate phoning for customer service. I wish all companies had great online customer service – which should include live chat.

[tags] customer, service, technology, automation, leo bottary, john koetsier [/tags]

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