How Technology is Replacing Human Interaction - How It Affects Customer Service

How Technology is Replacing Human Interaction - How It Affects Customer Service

In today’s society where technology seems to be replacing human interaction as many companies have replaced the option of speaking to a representative with websites or automated menu systems that can quickly provide information with the touch of a few buttons. What happens when one doesn’t want to use these technologies or when the information provided doesn’t meet their needs? These individual rely on representatives of the company to answer their questions or to resolve their complaints. This is why the art of customer service is all but dead.

Providing excellent customer service isn’t something that can be taught. Though businesses do typically provide their employees with training on proprietary software, company policies, industry regulations (where applicable), and the technical aspect of a job; how to deal with a customer is something that comes from experience. Though it may seem that anyone can fulfill the duties of a customer service representative, it takes a certain type of individual to effectively deal with a variety of customers such as a confused elderly person to the most demanding customer who wants an answer yesterday. Being in the field of customer service for over ten years I have tailored my skills to meet these demands and try to provide the following pointers to others merely to aide in the success.

When a call first comes in, one must always remember to provide a pleasant greeting for the customer. Most call centers have a script on how calls must be answered or what is expected in the opening of a call. Some allow for the representative to put their own twist on a greeting to make it more personable. Though only a greeting it does set the tone for the rest of the call. Based on the tone of voice used in the greeting one can get gauge how the rest of the call will go. If the greeting seems too weak one can assume the representative doesn’t feel confident in his or her knowledge of the job. If the greeting seems forced or very curt then one can believe the representative will not care about resolving the issue or will be rude. This is why a little “smile” in ones voice is important. Customers do not care about the day the representative is having nor what is going on in the representative’s life; their only focus is on getting their issued resolved or their question answered. A customer service representative should also refrain from being overly enthusiastic as some people will see this as an invitation to take advantage of the representative.

Once the caller has been established the real duty of a customer service representative comes into play—helping the customer. One must fully pay attention to the customer in the beginning of a call to completely understand their needs. While a customer is explaining the situation it is helpful to take notes of the situation being described. This allows a representative to ask effective questions to the customer to fill in any gaps he or she may have left out. Customers typically do not mean to omit information when calling for assistance, but this does occur. Sometimes this happens because they are overly emotional, there is a language barrier, or because they are a third party and only know the facts as described to them. In these situations it is a good idea for the customer service representative to summarize the information given so both parties can agree it is accurate. In the case of a difficult or frustrated customer this also provides trust in the representative they are speaking to.

During a call it is important for a customer service representative not lose control of the situation. Dealing with a wide variety of personalities a great customer service representative must tailor their personality to meet the needs of the person on the phone. When dealing with a confused individual it would benefit the representative not to use technical jargon as this tends to lead to further confusion. In the case of an irate customer one should use a monotonous yet pleasant voice and express empathy for the situation experienced. It is also important to provide the caller trust that the situation will be resolved; even if it isn’t the resolution the caller wants. The most irate person can be defused simply by knowing someone is trying to resolve their situation. In the case of an emotional customer it is important to calm the person down and get all the important facts so the representative doesn’t become confused in the process. This can often be done by using a strong, yet confident tone of voice.

Regardless of tenure in a position a customer service representative will not know every answer. Once all the necessary information is gathered and the representative knows the issue must be researched it is important to relay that to a caller. An excellent representative should always ask the caller if they would like to be placed on hold while something is being looked into or if they would like a call back as dead air is never an acceptable. If placing a person on hold it is important to give the caller an idea of how long the hold will be. It is also important to let the caller know what they are to expect while on hold—if there will be silence or hold music. If the situation takes longer than expected then it is courtesy to go back on the line and advise additional time is needed. Once again the option should be given to continue to hold or ask if the customer would like a call back. In either situation a reasonable expectation should be made to the customer of how long this will be. In the case of calling a customer back it is imperative to keep this appointment.

Once resolution has been found and the customer’s situation has been handled a customer service representative should then close the call. First and foremost a representative must make sure the customer understands the resolution. If the customer needs to do something on their end a representative should give them time to do it. If the customer can try something while the representative is on the phone then they should be given this opportunity. If the resolution is something that will take a bit for the customer to do then a great representative should offer a callback to verify the resolution was appropriate. Not only does this provide the customer with trust in the representative but it also provides a good light for the company being represented. The customer should also be asked if they need any additional assistance. Often people call for one reason but once trust has been established they will ask additional questions

Even though corporations are using technology to provide their cliental with answers to common questions humans will still be needed to providing support for a wide variety of people and situations. Some are just resistant to change and demand human interaction. In other cases an automated system simply cannot provide the information needed or resolve to a problem. In these cases customer service representatives are needed. Though one can teach the technical aspect of any job, how to handle individuals is something that cannot necessarily be taught. It takes time to fully develop the skills needed to deal with a wide variety of personalities and issues. By following the points mentioned above one can help to develop their own skills in providing outstanding service to customers.