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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