Customer Service – Poor Execution or Customer’s Preference

There is an ongoing debate within the Support & Service industry as to why more CS&S issues aren’t handled by means other than live agents. There are those who say that vendors haven’t created the right solutions for customers to implement. There are others who claim that customers like to talk to live people, not machines. When I say machines, I am also including people utilizing technology, including self service, live chat, and emails, to name a few. Basically, anything but a live person.

If you take the first position, you would believe there are opportunities for companies who solve the technology problem and provide better self service solutions. On the other hand, if you believe that people like to talk to humans, then the task ahead is to give the agents all the tools possible to improve the customer experience. These would include: improving the knowledgebases available to agents to answer customers’ questions, integrating the various applications at the disposal of agents so they can more accurately and quickly address customers questions, or making the transition more transparent to a customer when they move to a second channel of solving an issue so they don’t have to start over with this issue when they transition.

While I have my own opinion on this issue, I thought I would first look to see what the research shows. John Ragsdale recently released a SSPA study that spoke to the increase of incidents coming into contact center. He then goes on to point out that with the increase in volume, call deflections via automation isn’t handling the greater volume. In fact, phone calls are picking up a greater % of the calls.  Finally, he points out that customers aren’t getting satisfaction from self service either. When his readers chime in, they talk to how technology hasn’t really improved since 2006, but if companies would just deploy some good technology and implement best practices, they will see customer satisfaction and call deflection increase. John seems to be concluding that customers are just looking for better means to get their questions answered and are frustrated by the technology currently available. Seemed to be a vote for the side of the right technology.

Another research report by Forrester seems to endorse both positions. Their conclusion is that customers aren’t pleased by self-service, but if you follow the reasons given for the conclusion, it would bolster both sides of the argument. Technology isn’t there yet, but also people (crossing all generations) just like to talk directly to people.

My conclusion – I’ll sound like a politician here. Both beliefs are right. We must do a better job of providing the right resources to the front-line agents who deal with most of our customers, but no matter how good the technology available, many people will still want to talk to a human.

What do you think?

Until Next Time,



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