The Human Touch Will Never Be Replaced
Historically, customer service was delivered over the phone or in person. Customers didn't have many choices, and switching to competitors was cumbersome. Today, these methods are but two of the many possible points of entry for any given interaction. With all the options the Internet brings, competition is literally a click away.
However, online customer service is not good--to put it mildly. In fact, some people say it stinks. Why? The web is but one dimension. It doesn't have the human response -- the necessity for back and forth live communication -- that is so critical.
Twenty five years from now customers will still be human beings, still be driven by desires and needs. Virtual environments do not create virtual customers. Except for the simplest transactions, customers still need to be connected with and nurtured by a live person. Amazon.com has learned this. They employ hundreds of traditional CSRs using phone lines to help customers with questions that cannot be dealt with online.
In today's competitive marketplace there is little difference between products and services. What makes the difference, what distinguishes one company from another, is its relationship with the customer. Who has the awesome responsibility for representing themselves, their companies, perhaps their industry in general? Front line representatives.
However, being great on the telephone doesn't necessarily translate into the written word, whether it's via e-mail, faxback, or text-chat. As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said, one out of six Americans are functionally illiterate. (New York Times, August 11, 1999).
What can we do about this? Hire for attitude, train for aptitude. For instance, train for language skills, basic or advanced. Train for communication and listening skills, rapport building, empathetic responsiveness, conflict resolution, anger diffusion, and like soft skills. Perceive training as an ongoing process, not an event.
One of the most powerful documents in the world, the U.S. Constitution, begins with "We, the people..." Yes, 'we the people' is what makes the difference.
ROSANNE D'AUSILIO, Ph.D., an industrial psychologist, and President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in human performance management. Over the last 20 years, she has provided needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live customer service skills (people skills) trainings across industries.. Also offered is university certification through Purdue University’s Center for Customer Driven Quality to kick it up a notch in the area of customer service.
Known as 'the practical champion of the human,’ she authors three best selling books, “Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub,” 4th edition, Customer Service and the Human Experience (co-authored with Dr. Jon Anton), and her latest, Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack Your Personal Deck (includes 32 card deck), are all available at www.human-technologies.com
Rosanne is also a Certified Call Center Benchmarking Auditor through Purdue University's Center for Customer Driven Quality. This certification training focused on the access and use of key performance data to help better understand benchmarking results so as to advise on practical solutions for improvement.
She sits on the Advisory Board for HDPA (Help Desk Professional Association), represents the human element on the Advisory Board for an Italian software company, and is a columnist for TMCnet.com on Training. She authors numerous articles for industry newsletters, her web e-newsletter, her new ‘tips’ on How To Kick Customer Service Up A Notch at www.HumanTechTips.com and is a much sought after dynamic, vibrant, internationally prominent keynote speaker.
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