Shop owners and employees knew you by name. They’d bend over backwards to make you happy, and make every effort to ensure a good experience.
Today, many believe that this good, old-fashioned customer service is dead. Its killer: technology.
Every new gadget, software and digitalised service, dispossesses human customer service agents of duties. But this isn’t what customers want.
In fact, 62% of customers prefer simple, flexible service options over flashy new technology.
Tech is important for successful customer service experiences today. But it’s not — and shouldn’t be — the star of your service. Old-fashioned customer service isn’t going out of style.
So, how can you balance traditional expectations with modern customer care?
The good-old days
In the bygone days before technology revolutionised our shopping habits, customer service was face to face. It was human, and it was personal.
Shop owners would look you in the eye and call you by name. They’d ask about your day, enquire of your family members, and recommend a new product they think would appeal to your tastes.
More importantly, they’d put you first. They’d actively listen, and do everything they could to make you happy and satisfied.
A lot has changed since then.
In those days, there was less customer convenience. You’d have to be in store to receive service. You’d have been limited to the few shops and amenities in your local area. You would have had to make an obvious effort to come into a business and spend your money or ask for help.
So naturally, that effort had to be eagerly reciprocated.
Good old-fashioned customer service meant putting the customer first, solving problems and personalising every experience.
Introduction of tech
Nowadays, we as customers have a world of choice at our fingertips. Technology has revolutionised the way we shop, and given us multiple avenues for finding and buying from a business.
The internet meant that businesses became more accessible, and convenience became the must-have. Now customers could access your products and service at any time, from anywhere.
And with more customers to serve, the ability to give that good, old-fashioned customer service took a hit.
Call centres grew in popularity, as did email, social media and online chat. Now, AI and chatbots are on the rise — ready to meet the demands of a worldwide customer base.
These technological advancements have led customers to expect instant support and real-time gratification.
So, customer service speed became a priority.
Tech is not the star of the show
The problem is, as we continue to advance into a tech-saturated retail world, it’s easy to lose sight of the customer completely. Businesses are pleased to offer cool new tech in their service; it helps them appear competitive.
Unfortunately, that tech is too-often the star of the service show.
Customers are becoming less and less likely to have their problem handled by a human. Digital efficiency and speed are prioritised ahead of quality customer care.
Building lasting, personal relationships with customers is replaced by cold bots sorting customers through the cogs of a digitised service machine.
Yet only 15% of consumers believe companies should invest in these technologies. This is because we miss the good ol’ days with good old-fashioned customer service.
The lack of old-fashioned customer care hits hardest when things go wrong. Our tech simply doesn’t know what to do. It can’t be empathetic, or flexible, and so it can’t solve the problem effectively.
Over-reliance on these technologies in place of a human team simply abolishes the good old-fashioned customer service that customers pine for.
Blending for the future
But customer service technology itself is not to blame for the loss of good old-fashioned customer service. In fact, it’s possible to use technology like live chat software, social media and even chatbots to provide the level of service that we’re missing.
If, and only if, we blend it with friendly human agents.
Technology has helped us expand into worldwide business, yet retain the real-time nature of good old-fashioned support. But tech alone won’t wow your customers.
With digitised customer service processes so ubiquitous, it’s time to take tech off its pedestal and let your human agents have the spotlight. Indeed, 58% of consumers said that businesses should provide ‘better training & performance incentives for customer facing staff’.
Technology has come a long way, and it’s exciting, but it’s still just a tool. And that’s how it should be used.
It can bridge the gap of distance, language barriers, and time, to enable human support members to provide the quick, quality care that customers crave.
So, avoid shunning technology, or forgetting the values of good, old fashioned customer service. Instead, blend your technology use with a well-trained human team.
We need to place emphasis firmly on the abilities and skills of a human support team. And, in turn, use tech to support them.
Only through doing so can you provide good, old-fashioned customer service with modern day convenience.
- – Customer service excellence: it’s in the details
- – Chat technology and the paradox of communication
- – The three cornerstones of the human touch in customer service
- – Live chat is not a silver bullet for CX issues
- – An interview with Jo Causon: the state of customer service
- – The customer service battle: digitalisation vs the human touch