As someone who tries to be on the forefront of the tech curve, I think it’s important to recognize when perhaps, just maybe technology has run amok. In certain use-cases with certain technology I’d say we are there.
The use-case I have in mind today is what is now the prevalent use of phone-trees for incoming calls from customers. You know these, you almost cringe when you hear the automated voice say, “Press 1 for English.”
For some context – I rarely initiate calls to any company. Largely because I don’t want to get lost in the phone maze, and practically because more often than not I can get what I need accomplished done quicker via website, app or even Twitter. So this week I had to call my cable company and the local Walgreen’s about a prescription. What I got (aside from lost time) is a stark reminder of technology run amok.
First, Cablevision. I understand why they have the phone tree to help direct customer calls to the right product team. Like most modern MSO’s they have ISP, cable and phone services. My issue though is I’ve been getting several emails a week for several weeks asking me to call for an account review. It turns out after more than five minutes of pushing buttons, selecting options and eventually setting up a call back – all they wanted was an updated cell phone. For real.
Then there is my neighborhood Walgreen’s. Now this should be easy. My questions are about something I bought in the store or the pharmacy counter. That should be two, maybe three button pushes. So yesterday morning while waiting for 14.0 I decided to call to check on a prescription’s status. Eight button pushes in, I could not get to one of the two pharmacists on duty. The Walgreen’s app doesn’t give status on a pending prescription, so I had to go walk into the store to find out there was a snag at the doctor’s office.
That is a lot of listening, deciding options and button pushing for very little reward. That can’t be the model these companies are hoping to replicate in customer service. I get it. The phone trees should help steer the call so the right person gets the call and the right answer can be given. That would be good customer service.
But this is a case where technology has run amok, and more options does not help get to a better result.
There are times thought when technology can be an asset. During a recent cross-country flight on Virgin America – the outlet at my seat was not working. After my laptop died I pulled out my iPad and opened Twitter. I sent out a tweet saying my GoGo inflight WiFi experience was great, but my seat outlet did not work on Virgin America. From that tweet, before I landed Virgin America gave me a $50 credit on my next flight. A company that can use technology to make sure the customer experience is optimized – it does work.