Retail Reflections

The Covid Customer Care Continuum – Is This Really As Good As It Gets?

The Covid Customer Care Continuum – Is This Really As Good As It Gets?

We’ve all experienced it, you know what I’m referring to, listening to interminable muzak whilst on hold. Our crime? Simply wishing to speak to a human.

Now, I personally have nothing against chatbots. And I do understand why customer facing organisations shouldn’t actually want to speak to their customers. Because of course, that would be an inconvenience to which a cost will be attached, and besides, chatbots don’t take breaks.

And actually, they, along with their cousin, voice recognition, can, in certain situations be quite efficient and useful.

But if your query strays remotely outside the distinct, well documented parameters within which they operate, the descent into chatbot oblivion is usually swift and decisive.

‘Twas ever thus you might be thinking, but ‘as a result of Covid’, I think it’s got worse. Far worse. I heard a story the other day of someone who was met with the response, “your call is important to us, you are currently 186,000th in the queue”.

Extreme and probably rare but you get the picture.

Because it seems to me that at a time when all consumer facing companies should be focusing more than ever in how they communicate with their customers, many are trying to get away with doing the exact opposite.

‘Because of Covid, we are unable to………’ appears to have become accepted as a mantra for poor service. Instead, we should be asking ourselves, ‘is this as good as it gets?’.

The Covid Care Continuum shows no sign of abating anytime soon, face coverings or not. Because, in the face of increased competition, rising costs, supply chain shortages, climate change, the multiple pressures on businesses of all types, continues to become more and more acute. And rather than stepping up customer service, it appears that the polar opposite is happening.

Which, when you consider it for a moment is actually, counter-intuitive. The opportunity for differentiation in our hybrid pandemic world is greater than ever, so why not seize the opportunity?

However, it’s also counter-intuitive for another good reason.

We’re continually being told of the new found power which we as consumers have. You know, that gadget you never leave the house without. Because the power we all have at our fingertips is truly mind boggling compared to just ten years ago.

The business of business is evolving before our eyes and perhaps it’s time that ‘shareholder value’ was measured in other than dollars. Sadly, it seems that the elderly and the vulnerable are continually being marginalised. Organisations need to be judged on the quality of service they deliver coupled with their impact on the planet because it makes sense that those measures should be uppermost when considering shareholder value.

If there’s one good thing to come from our collective pandemic experience, it should be – as both individuals and corporations – doing what’s good, and right, and proper. Because surely, this can’t be as good as it gets?

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