Automated call systems, automated attendants, and other types of automated customer service are becoming increasingly common. Once thought to be a indicator of a large and impersonal business, automated customer service systems are making their way into more and more businesses and the technology becomes cheaper and cheaper. A business owner may see the relatively low cost of the automated customer systems and choose to implement the technology themselves. However, it is well known that customers prefer to interact with live humans instead of automated technology. A business owner who seeks to lower operating costs by installing an automated system risks losing customers, and that is something every business owner should consider before making the switch to automated technologies.
Disadvantages to the Business
Automated systems are fairly complex, and require a good deal of calibration and tweaking before they work effectively. If a business requires a lot of automation, then the set-up cost will be quite high for an automated system. In addition, many automated systems require the purchasing of expensive, proprietary equipment to run the necessary automation software and integrate it with existing resources. The cost of an automated customer service system begins to far outweigh the benefits for any business that is not large enough to adequately absorb the cost. Of course, a business may stand to lose more money in the long run, simply because automated customer service systems provide poor customer service. Something as simple as navigating a phone tree can be enough to make customers hang up the phone and take their business elsewhere, and more complex automation, such as voice recognition, is so poorly designed that the potential frustration a customer may feel will drive them to take their business to a competitor who may provide a more personal touch.
The hallmark of good customer service has always been personality. A customer service agent with a smile on their face and a kind and helpful word for a customer can increase customer satisfaction and retention. The strange part of this piece of knowledge is that businesses continue to move away from it. Seeking to find more efficient and cheaper methods of interacting with customers, businesses violate this cardinal rule of interaction: people prefer people. A customer will always expect a human being to be available to help them, and this expectation is not irrational. A computerized system is simply unable to answer all questions and solve all problems that a customer has. More importantly, an automated system is unable to provide the personable interaction that customers expect. Forcing a customer to interact with a machine makes them feel as though they are not worth the time of the company who they are choosing to offer their business. Not appreciating a customer is a surefire way to send that customer on to a competitor, and nothing screams a lack of appreciation like forcing a customer to interact with a machine instead of a live person.
High in cost to implement, difficult to maintain, and low in customer satisfaction; automated customer service systems offer nothing but raw efficiency for performing basic tasks when interacting with customers. This mild convenience comes at a price; the loss of customers, and the reduction in overall customer satisfaction. A business with a person-to-person style of interaction is always appreciated more by the customers.