Great Customer Service: Why We Want The Best Of Both Worlds

There’s no denying we love contactless service but we also want to get good old-fashioned customer service from a real human at the right times, too. Getting that balance right is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. Let’s break it down a bit.

Blog Episode 63

As customers, we humans are a fussy bunch. We can be very demanding and also very harsh if we don’t get what we want.

According to the Salesforce Research article Customer Expectations Hit All-Time Highs:

“Customers expect a lot from companies, but don’t have the faith in them to deliver. About half of the customers say most companies fall short of their expectations for great experiences. The reality is that today’s customers expect companies to understand and care about them as individuals, and treat them accordingly.”

There’s no denying we love contactless service but we also want to get good old-fashioned customer service from a real human at the right times, too. Getting that balance right is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. Let’s break it down a bit.

What we want from self-service

The obvious one here is on-demand service whenever and wherever. We expect to be able to do our basic banking, shopping, and tax-returns online and we expect for these transactions to be synced seamlessly between all our devices.

If we walk into a ‘bricks and mortar’ store or pull up at a petrol station, we increasingly expect to be able to manage the transactions ourselves and be on our way within minutes.

If we’ve purchased a mobile phone deal or a software licencing agreement online, we expect that we’ll find helpful answers to our FAQs or possibly an automated answer bot on the website.

We are also moving away from lock-in contracts so we can move on to a different supplier or product when we want to.

What we want from human-contact service

There will always be situations where we want human connection from the start (or close to the start). We’ll always prefer getting professional advice from real people even if their services are supported by technology. After all, there might be apps to help us manage our financial data, but they will never understand what it’s like to be in our shoes like a human can.

We love being able to self-serve, but, when we reach a point where the machines are not serving us in some way, we want to be able to talk to a human, even if we are chatting to them via a message screen online.

For example, many of you would understand the joys and frustrations of MS Windows updates. They can provide us with all sorts of amazing short-cuts and apps, but they can also cause big headaches. You might be pretty good at troubleshooting many problems yourself, but if you’ve got a curly issue, accessing a customer service tech via your Microsoft account can be a huge relief and time-saver. Or, if you’re having trouble paying a bill, many organisations have a team of people ready and willing to negotiate with you and find a solution that works all round. These are good things and we like having them around.

See, we are a bit demanding, aren’t we?

Getting the balance wrong

There are some organisations out there that have got so caught up in the self-service side of product delivery that they’ve forgotten to make an effort to connect with us as people.

They are the organisations that haven’t got decent helplines set up or who refuse to see issues other than in black and white. In episode 63 of our From The Trenches podcasts, When Software Companies Attack, Paul Meissner shared his experience with facing an organisation like this in court. Paul understood that the organisation had followed the letter of the law, but felt they lacked a pro-active customer service culture and could have handled the situation with more compassion.

There is also a fine line between giving us personalised service and knowing too much about us. Yes, we are generally happy to share our personal data if it helps give us a customised experience when we engage with a brand. However (and this is a BIG however), we want our privacy respected so organisations must have transparent and water-tight data-protection procedures in place.

Any organisation that (unintentionally or deliberately) allows personal data to be leaked will be taken to the cleaners when they are found out. For example, in the same episode of From The Trenches, Paul and Dave discussed how medical appointment booking app HealthEngine were found to have asked users to share details of their medical conditions or workplace or traffic-related injuries. This information was then fed to the legal firm Slater and Gordon and to advertisers who could then tailor ads to patient’s symptoms. This case is now under urgent review by the Federal Health Minister.

(See the article Medical appointment booking app HealthEngine sharing clients' personal information with lawyers on the ABC News website for more information on this story.)

Getting the balance right

Here’s what it comes down to. We want organisations to provide products and services that make our lives better or easier in some way. We love automation in many areas of our life as long as it fits into the ‘better or easier’ category. But we also want to have the comfort of knowing that, if we need them, there will be people that are accessible, trustworthy, and that genuinely care about us as fellow people.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?


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Many of the themes in this article came from From The Trenches episode 63 When Software Companies Attack presented by Paul Meissner and David Boyer. Paul & David are passionate CA's who care deeply about the accounting industry.

Paul quit his accounting day job seven years ago and now owns and runs the Melbourne-based firm, 5ways Group Chartered Accountants, and his online Freedom Accounting System firm which allows him to travel and work from anywhere.

For the last 4 years, David has worked as a Virtual CFO. At the start of 2016 he co-founded the Virtual CFO Association and in December 2016 his company, Sequel VCFO began franchising to mobilise the experienced work force of accountants in industry and bring their expertise to SMEs.

Together with their impressive list of guest presenters, Paul and David are the brave souls needed to fight through the noise and give accountants in practice the support and information they deserve.


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