Turning Customer Service into a Human Experience

The customer service experience should be a human experience. I think there are very few people who would disagree with that statement. We’re all looking for human connections, be it on a personal level or on a professional level, so why should customer service deliver us anything else but that?

As technology and artificial intelligence develops and integrates itself more and more into our daily lives, we all run the risk of being less connected with our fellow human beings and missing out on that very vital human experience.

For customer service representatives, what does delivering a human experience mean?

Research shows that people are looking for personalised contact with their customer service reps. Overall, they’re looking for:

  • Honesty
  • Accuracy
  • Promptness
  • Personalised communication
  • Sensitivity

Essentially, people want to deal with one person who knows and understands their needs who is able to give them the correct information in a reasonable timeframe. They don’t want to be bounced around a customer service rep network or phone system, and they most certainly don’t want to be aware that they’ve been put into a CRM so that everyone who has access can provide them with the correct level of ‘personalization’.

Using a CRM is the best way to stay on top of customer service queries, of course, but it’s important to make sure that you don’t just end up reading off the list. If the customer spoke to John Smith last week, they’d very much prefer to speak to John Smith again because there’s only so much personal information that can be recorded and read from a CRM database when the customer rings back.

Little personal anecdote. I moved apartments a month ago, and as part of the move I needed a new washing machine. Lucky me they set the delivery to the last Friday I had taken off for the holiday season, and I waited diligently all day long for it to arrive. By 4pm I was starting to get a little dubious about it all, and tried to ring the branch from which I’d bought the thing. No one answered. Assuming they were busy, I tried again half an hour later, and when I had no luck with that, I tried every single number on the delivery and sales dockets I had in my possession. Not a single number was answered.

At a loss, I turned to the Internet and found the store’s helpline. Thankfully, someone picked up. After briefly, and politely, explaining what my trouble was, the lady on the other side said she would check into it for me and call me back.
Now, we all know what ‘I’ll call you back as soon as possible’ really translates into: we’ll put you on a to do list and never call back. So I waited an hour – how long can it take to contact a driver or duty manager? – and rang the helpline again. This time, I got a different lady, and… yup, had to go through my entire story again, only to be promised another call back.

Anyways, to cut a long story short, this happened three times and every time I got a different lady on the line with the same call back promise and no call backs. Not only was this extremely frustrating, it was starting to make me really angry – and not only because I’m in the customer service improvement game, but simply because, as a customer, I had the feeling that no one was listening to me.

In the end, I called them back and, against my usual nature, ‘ripped them a new one’. Lo and behold, a call back five minutes after I hung up with a locked in delivery time for the following morning and the contact details for the duty manager and the delivery truck driver.

Aside from the obvious trouble here, the downside of my having to lose my temper at some poor woman on the other side of a helpline is completely unnecessary. All I needed was someone to pay attention to me, understand my concern – and later, my frustration – and come up with a solution.

Customers are often left in powerless, whether it comes to quality control, feedback, questions, delivery times, etc. We like to say that the customers have all the power now, and that might be true in certain circumstances but it doesn’t hold true when the business owes the customer something.

Customers should never be treated as numbers on a sheet, they are human and deserve to be given the attention they deserve. Building the idea of human experience into your customer service experiences is an important step in growing your customer retention rate, because, let me assure you, I’m never ordering anything from the place where I bought that washing machine ever again. I’ll take a company that delivers a human experience service any day of the week.

Olwen - in purple Olwen has been in marketing for more than 8 years, she‘s been with AQ since 2016. Her passion is for helping people and businesses improve their customer service experience by providing interesting content. Follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.

Read more of Olwen’s articles here.