By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training
Siri hates me.
I know it. When I ask for directions to “123 Main Street, St. Louis, MO”, her answer has been, “I can’t find Main Street in Des Moines.”
Now I have a pretty good, clear speaking voice and tone. I don’t mumble or talk too soft.
That being said, let’s define A.I. for those that may not be as familiar with it as those that are.
The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and translation between languages.
Fairly simple? Most of us realize, and I believe accept the fact, that computers do make errors. Perhaps not as many as us humans; however, nevertheless, they do. And they certainly are fast when working right and we input correctly.
I just do not believe A.I. will take over the world soon.
A.I. is good in many cases for finding information, however, what I find it lacks is in the real “need” category.
From what I see and hear as I travel the country speaking at conferences and meetings helping companies communicate better with their customers and coworkers, is a huge desire to help the customer. Not ignore them and certainly not replace them.
Remember when the Automated Attendant came onto the scene? Surely there are a few reading this who do. It became the #1 frustration of the American public – overriding “being put on HOLD” which was #1.
I heard so many complaints about the A.A. (and still do). At that time I explained to my audiences the A.A. was not installed to replace people. The A.A. was designed to answer on the first ring, which it does, and to expedite a call, which is does. Most companies used the person they replaced with the A.A. in another position. That being said, fast forward to my audiences today. The automated attendant remains a very high level of frustration. It’s not well liked. People still want people. What percentage? Good question. All I can say is a LOT.
Where I feel confident we can help companies is to talk with you about the people you have working with the people who call you for help. I don’t see that ending for quite a while.
There is a massive connection and correlation between poor, bad customer service and no training.
This is not rocket science; it’s not brain surgery; it’s plain old common sense. Good old common sense. Which sadly isn’t too common, as we know.
My suggestion to the companies who still have human beings helping other human beings is to get a training program that helps the people understand better, listen better, empathize and sympathize more.
And a key point is to teach your customer service department how to empower themselves to help the customer. Not everyone is equipped to be a natural at making people feel good and getting them to trust you. It’s an ‘art’ – not a science. (Sometimes we hire people because they’re breathing.)
“Go and be nice” is not training. Everyone thinks they’re nice. And everyone isn’t.
Worried about the customer service person making a mistake if you empower them and let them make their own decisions? Most folks are. But if you think about it, it’s normally a one-time mistake and used as a learning/teaching experience if you’re a smart manager. Seldom costly – merely frustrating. There is a learning balance between “give the customer everything they demand, ask for and want” and the win – win situation for both sides. This empowerment trait is usually not inbred. It needs to be shown, explained, and experienced. Many employees are afraid they’ll get in trouble if they think on their own two feet; if they make a mistake. They usually won’t if the training is done early and often.
Find the mistakes early and use that as a learning and teaching experience. Chances are the mistake won’t be done twice. And if it’s done again, figure out if it was the teacher or the student who didn’t ‘get it right.’
Communications is a two-way street. While we still have people helping people, let’s keep up with the customer service. A.I. won’t.
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