I’m not sure when the disconnect occurred. Somewhere along the line, customer service lost “service.” Maybe it was when telephone systems automated. Possibly, it was when customer service departments started sending our support calls overseas. Maybe, when Coke changed the recipe to new Coke or when Journey lost Steve Perry. I can't recall the exact moment I became a 16 digit number to my credit card company. Before all of these changes, customer service was different.
A gas station had real people come out and fill up my tank and actually wash my windows and check my oil. Long gone are the days of the service station. Hardly any service at all. Air for my tires is no longer free. For seventy five cents I can get 3 minutes of pressurized air. How about adding 2 cents onto my $4 a gallon gas and giving me all the air I want? I probably wouldn’t notice the up charge.
I could walk into a hardware store and have a key made without the clerk rolling his eyes at me. Calling my bank was not an exercise in futility or frustration. I can remember having a relationship with a real person behind a real wood desk, not a cubicle, five thousand miles away.
Come on people, look at what we have in our hands. Technology has put the world at our fingertips. We have the ability to find information about people, projects, products, services and available resources at the click of a button. Customers calling us, asking questions about “How do I…,” “Where do I…,” or “What do I…” , can be answered on the spot since the advent of Google. Purchasers wanting immediate gratification can download, upload, zip, zap, drop and cloud files with very little effort. So why are we falling short in the category of service?
One thing that we will never be able to replace is the warmth of an interactive conversation, the exchange of information and the empathy and compassion one gets when speaking to another human being. How can a smile be shipped overseas? A handshake cannot be outsourced. Fortunately, corporate America has not figured out how to automate trust, integrity and kindness. These traits for the time being will need to be dealt with human to human, and for the record, I am quite ok with that.
Please tell me about a recent experience with customer service in the comment section below. Your ideas inspire future blog posts.