Is Customer Service Automation Frustrating Your Customers?

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Customer Service Automation

Do you think crotchety senior citizens are the only people who still complain about not being able to talk to a live customer service rep? Think again. When a recent poll asked 1,000 U.S. consumers for their number-one customer service gripe, not being able to get from an automated phone system to a live person was the top complaint among Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers alike.

Although often portrayed as wanting to interact with businesses entirely online, 32 percent of Millennials say their biggest frustration is customer service automation and being unable to reach a live person. Thirty percent of Gen X consumers and 47 percent of Baby Boomers feel the same way.

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Of course, this doesn’t mean customers are opposed to customer service automation —90 percent have used them and nearly 60 percent say, in general, such systems have improved customer service. But the key is making intelligent use of your automated customer service system. How can you do this?

Always Offer the Option to Reach a Live Person

Don’t make callers guess which button they need to push to get to a live representative, or wait through three minutes’ worth of options. When you run a small business, customers expect to get through quickly and to receive a personalized touch, so make sure you provide this.

Provide Alternatives

If call wait times are unusually long at a specific time, for instance, offering callers the option to leave a voicemail that is then forwarded to a customer service rep’s email enables them to get their messages through with less frustration.

Choose Customer Service Tools That Integrate with Your CRM

You’ll gain access to historical customer data that immeasurably improves your customer service reps’ ability to provide personalized, relevant service. If customers have been on hold for a while, having their data at the rep’s fingertips does a lot to ease their frustration.

With 87 percent of consumers polled saying customer service systems have a significant impact on their choice of businesses, and two-thirds reporting they’ve stopped doing business with a company due to poor service, using customer service technology the right way is more vital than ever.

Customer Service Robot Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

6 Reactions
  1. I have to agree that it is frustrating to talk to a robot. And if this is all the company has to offer, it makes me think that they could not care less as to what happens to their customers once they buy. When this happens, I always make sure that all my friends and family know about this so that they can avoid the said company.

  2. Hi Rieva, Great article!
    I especially liked this following sentence “When you run a small business, customers expect to get through quickly and to receive a personalized touch, so make sure you provide this.”. However I believe this rule is true to all businesses, big, medium or small. In this day and age customers are well aware of the power they have, and they are not afraid to use it.
    I believe that live chat is an excellent way to earn customer trust and loyalty (when manned and operated correctly). It is a channel through which customers usually receive an immediate response (within 90 seconds approximately), and get total visibility to the process (they see if and when the rep is connected, see when he is typing, etc.)

  3. Yup! Are you listening banks in America? Are you paying attention Wells Fargo?

  4. Umm what was the actual question – was it “are you prepared to pay more to talk to a human” because that’s the real issue. Human interaction is the most expensive form of contact and with companies under continuous pressure – by us in many cases – to reduce costs and prices automation is taking over. So if you really want to be able to talk to someone everytime be prepared to pay more.

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