Customer service is dead. Long live the digital experience

Your flight is 4 hours late? You have a problem. Call our agent, in Budapest at 3 euros per minute.

You haven’t saved your receipts from 1999? You have another problem? No refund.

You changed credit cards and cannot remember the last 4 numbers of your previous card? You have a yet another problem. You cannot stop paying for something you did not buy.

Your car was stolen? Welcome to a digital hell.

And so on and so forth.

Oh yes: you need to talk to a customer service agent: wait until you have listened to entire irrelevant voice menu, then press 9 and you will be told to “please call later, as all our attendants are presently busy”.

You do not need to be a rocket scientist to get the drift of why this had happened. All you need to do is read this post, albeit I myself am not a rocket scientist: just an old OD consultant with a brain that still works.

Here we go:

  • The voice menu-which not only directs you where you need to go, but also makes sure that it is very hard to reach an attendant.
  • Digitalization erects a firewall of business processes which always seems not to work, or, not address that specific problem that you encounter.
  • Working from home which eventually lessens the bond between the service provider and the sense of belonging to the company that provides the service.
  • The culture of “shadow work”, whereby the service provider gets you to work for them. “Do you see that red cable under your router? It’s green? Ok. Take it out and put it in the yellow hole. You don’t have a yellow hole? Take a picture and send me a picture of what your router looks like”.
  • The low cost of goods. You bought a ticket from Rome to Copenhagen for 40 Euro return. You get what you pay for.
  • The low level of solidarity between brands and their customer base as well as employees and their company.
  • Good service and customer loyalty are not worth it in the short run. And in the long run? Who cares, really? Yes, we say we care but actually we don’t. Most businesses don’t give a shit anymore.

What can OD do? Nothing for the most. It’s a societal trend much more powerful than we are. The only thing we can do is help develop niche businesses who are interested in truly serving their clients. In action, this is a very small market.

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The wall between me and people with basic common sense/ a sense of ownership was blocked by a firewall of mindless software, which turned me, the user, into a miniscule meaningless speck of dust

George, my 14 year old poodle, accumulates a lot of pee at night, and so the first thing in the morning, I take him downstairs to allow him to get something off his mind.

And my car was not there.

Nor was that of my neighbour.


I called the police 100. They told me to call another police station. We only have one police force is Israel, but apparently several numbers to report thefts. For a stolen car, press one; for an apartment break in, press two. For stolen phones, press three. Anyway….

I was told that I could report a theft which would be valid for my insurance claim via their website. Just a few problems: I had to open a user with using a long complex password which I fucked up a few times. Then I had to enter ‘POLICE’ and navigate to ‘thefts’. There were many types of thefts-and several times I was booted off the site for refreshing a frozen web page. Finally, I reached ‘car thefts’, yet since there had been no witness to the crime, I was not allowed to continue lodging the complaint. The help desk (which I reached after an hour) suggested that I try again in a few days ‘and hopefully that bug won’t be there’.

So in the blistering heat, I walked to the police station. Luckily, those before me in line were all complaining about car thefts; I was number 7 and I was out of there in an hour. Reporting a car theft in person takes but a few minutes.

Then, the insurance claim. The insurance company asked me for a copy of the car license. Of course it had been stolen. But they wanted it anyway-that is what their site told me. I called them, but there was no one to speak to; whatever I dialled, I was always sent to their site. So I tried to download a copy of the car license, at the Ministry of Transport-but the car was stolen so no notice of ownership could be issued. I called their help desk as well, and was referred to their website.

The wall between me and people with basic common sense and or a sense of ownership was blocked by a firewall of mindless software, which turned me, the user, into a miniscule meaningless speck of dust.

They all beat me.

And just to make sure I was dead, I got a text from the insurance company telling me that ‘your complementary car is available on Friday, not Wednesday, due to temporary unavailability.’ The complementary car can be picked up at a one hour drive from my home, “at your convenience”.

I did not even try to change that, although there are rental services near my home.

I know when I am beat.

Thanks heavens for my insurance agent, a real person, who called me and told me that he, not I, will take on the beast and get me reimbursed.

Digital-based services will eventually be seen as a crime against humanity.

PS. Cancelling Road 6 subscription was done easily by web. Cancelling Road 6 North was a nightmare; they wanted the last 4 digits of my credit card, and I was driving so I could not access it. Then, it took me another two days to get a reply that I sent them to their web site.Cancelling Carmel Mountain Tunnel subscription is a work in progress. There is no answer to the cancelling request that I submitted.

And my car was spotted in a security camera entering the Palestian Town of Qalqiya-and by now is long gone, chopped up into spare parts and resold both in Israel and in the PA. (Palestinian Authority)

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