Automated Phones vs Human Interaction: The Customer Service Battle

Automated System vs Human InteractionToday, with more and more companies looking to cut costs it seems the good ol’ standby of a live person on the phone is one of the first places to look for savings.  I’m wondering how you feel about that.  My personal experience with automated systems has been one of pain and anguish.

How many times have you needed a simple piece of information from someone you’re working with and, instead, you end up in voice mail hell?  Then, once you get to where you believe you should be, you’re told, by and automated voice no less, which you need a specific piece of information that you don’t have with you at the moment.  Perhaps, a live person on the line could have been able to simply explain what you needed in order to complete your inquiry and so you could better prepare for a follow-up call.  You know what’s going to happen when you get the information the automated system told you would need, right?!  You’re going to get by that step only to be told, again, you need even more info you may not have readily available.

According to ‘The Pros and Cons of Automated Services’, “HIM (Human Interaction Management) is defined as a set of management principles, patterns and techniques complementary to Business Process Management; ultimately bringing back the power of relationships. Because of the backlash of automated services and the lack of support for them, businesses are re-evaluating the old school norm that work requires human knowledge and human interaction. Many companies are now realizing that perhaps taking the human touch out of business services was a step in the wrong direction.”

So, my question, again, is, how do you feel about automated phone systems?  Am I off base with this one?  Is the personal touch of reaching a receptionist a thing of the past?  Basically, is the money saved in automation outweighing customer pains and frustration, if done correctly?  I am wondering if anyone else has had experiences like this and whether or not you agree that efficiencies (at least on the customer end) seemed to drop off with automated attendants.

Posted by Joe Di Zazzo, President & CEO, ProfitKey International
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