Many companies are trying to automate the customer experience. At Home Depot, you can order On-Line and pick it up at the front of the store, never having to walk through the store again . At your local supermarket, you can order your entire shopping list On-line, have an employee pick the items and have it bagged up and ready for you to pick up, without walking up and down the aisles yourself. At the airports you can scan your iPhone at the self check in kiosk. But what about when something goes wrong?
Think about who is the airport representative who has to field the frustrated customers questions when they can’t get their airline ticket to scan. Their entire flight is in jeopardy. Since the airline has chosen to automate the process, the representative is most likely not trained well and not a manager or someone who can easily fix the problem. This automation has really ticked off the customer.
Recently, I purchased a replacement tile, a small bluetooth disc you put on your keychain to use to find misplaced keys. The tile lasts for about a year and they you have to order a new one as the battery wears out. This was my third year purchasing a tile. I was happy with the product and happy to purchase another one. I ordered my new tile On-line and received a confirmation letting me know they received my order. About a week later, I received an email letting me know myna tile was shipped and on the way. I received an additional email telling me the delivery date. All good. I next received an email letting me know that the new tile was delivered. The problem was I never received it. I went back to the tile website to see who I can contact to let them know I never received it. I clicked on their contact link and was directed to a “Chat Live” button. Another problem. They didn’t have anyone answering g their Chat Live button. In fact it took over two and a half hours until someone finally came up on their chat live. I explained the situation and their response is I should contact the Post Office, UPS or whoever touched the package during the shipping route. No where during this process was I able to speak to a Live Person and obviously felt they didn’t care and the automated process failed me as their repeat customer. Their automation frustrated me and changed by opinion of them and next year I will most likely forgo purchasing another tile when the battery wears out.
Automation can be great, as long as it doesn’t alienate you from your customer.