In reply to Sean Brierley’s article “I am a man not a number”, selfservice is symptomatic of the pressures of a 24-hour society.
I am sure there are many who will empathise with his Amazon experience, but there is no getting away from the fact that companies are moving into a more automated world.
This is something that we at Broadsystem looked at in depth with the Future Foundation and the conclusion clearly shows that companies should never lose sight of their customer.
At a time when pressures on budgets are intense, the temptation to use self-service automation to cut costs is great. However, the research clearly shows that unless automation is designed around customers’ needs it will result in perceptions of service being diminished not enhanced.
The strongest plea to emerge from the focus groups was that there should always be the option of speaking to a person if you need to. Too often companies see automation as a way of cutting out the people contact altogether, but the main issue with this is that the term selfservice, for the majority of customers, is still inextricably linked to people contact.
Perceptions of what is personal will undoubtedly change over time as experience with new channels grows and they become just an everyday occurrence. Ten years ago, telephone service was considered to be remote and impersonal even with a human being at the other end, but now it is one of the most excepted forms of communication.
Automation only increases the number of times your customer will have contact with your brand. Companies must accept that although the consumer may be happy to pursue some contact through automated channels, when personal contact is wanted it must be available.
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