We recently read Richard Shapiro’s new book “The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business” (Link). The book is filled with positive and negative customer service stories. One of our favorite stories in the book is about the gate agent at the Orlando airport who gave the passengers a thorough and friendly explanation of the reasons for the delay, expected timing and even looked up whether there were any other flights from other airlines. This saved the passengers a lot of angst and extra effort and also saved the gate staff from having to answer the same questions repeatedly. Here is an excerpt from that story
[The gate agent] explained that the flight was the next to Newark on any airline, so trying to switch flights would be a fruitless venture. He gave hope to passengers with connecting flights by saying that most likely all flights would be delayed and there was a good chance they might make theirs. He ended the announcement with a quiz. Yes, a quiz. He asked everyone to answer when the flight was boarding, being released from the gate, and taking off. Everyone shouted the answers. It was fun.
The main point of this story, and the overarching argument of the book, is the emphasis on maintaining the personal and human touch in customer relationships. In today’s world, automation and self service options are increasing rapidly. For example, automated “do not reply” emails are commonplace today even though customers appreciate written notes and personal emails much more.
At Chatdesk, one of our key principles is to ensure a human touch in our software and customer service processes. For example, we are using Machine Learning to help companies develop automated responses to common questions from their customers. However, we understand that this will only succeed if the automated responses are natural and friendly. Also, we believe that agents are absolutely critical since automation cannot handle 100% of scenarios. The goal of automation should be to free up agents from routine requests and enable them to spend more time focused on resolving complicated issues and taking the time to provide the personal touch.