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Tech Does Not Supplant the Human Touch
Advances in technology may be not be so advanced, as they hinder the old service-with-a-smile treatment that many Americans want.
Posted Sep 13, 2005
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The right attitude is more important than fast service, according to the results of a new survey that shows 83 percent of consumers believe that service with a smile is still the best path to customer satisfaction. "Value Of a Smile in Customer Service," commissioned by shipping and logistics provider DHL and conducted by Roper Public Affairs and Media, also indicates that 75 percent of Americans believe technology has hindered customer service instead of enhanced it. Top frustrations as a result of technology advancements include:
  • the lack of human interaction on the phone (28 percent);
  • getting stuck in the maze of automated voice systems (21 percent);
  • waiting on hold for long periods of time (14 percent);
  • rude customer service reps (13 percent). Business decision-makers' pet peeves are in line with those of consumers, and they are also irritated by numerous call transfers (10 percent). "Technology isn't a silver bullet when it comes to maintaining good relationships with customers," says John Gilfeather, director of Roper Corporate Reputation Scorecard. "The quality of interaction between service provider and customer is tremendously important. Companies may need to take another look at how they approach their customers today." "We commissioned this survey to capture a snapshot of the state of customer service in America today," says John Pearson, executive vice president of commercial, DHL Express. "The right attitude to customer service can make all the difference. Treating customers like people and providing service with a smile remain vital elements of delivering world-class customer care." Service with a smile trumps speed, but "nice without competent isn't enough," the report states. Knowledgeable and competent reps are the most important factor, according to 28 percent of consumers and 36 percent of business managers. "Receiving accurate information for a service professional is a must," the report states. Timely problem resolution is the most vital factor for 17 percent of consumers and 19 percent of businesses, but "getting the problem resolved quickly ins not synonymous with a speedy phone call. Only 5 percent of consumers and 3 percent of businesses say getting through the conversation quickly means the most."
    Consumers are divided as to whether the level of customer service has improved or declined in the past five years, but among those who say it's gotten worse, 82 percent say "people can get away with being ruder than in the past." Another 82 percent blame it on an unmotivated workforce, 76 percent on poor management, 72 percent on poor training, 58 percent on tighter overall budgets, and 45 percent attribute it to poor pay for customer service reps. Roughly 80 percent of consumers and business leaders say bad customer service experiences would cause them to switch to a different business or service provider, according to the survey. "When choosing a new provider, good customer service is central in the decision making of a majority of Americans; 93 percent claim that when all else is equal, the company with better customer service is the one they would choose." Related articles: Service With a Smile--and Personalized Customer Service Increases in Travel and Hospitality
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