Customer service in the Internet age

By Posted in - Public Relations on April 18th, 2011 0 Comments

I’m a fan of meeting with people face-to-face – especially if I have a question or need something explained. But when meeting in person isn’t an option, I have to rely on phone calls or email to connect. There’s something to be said about actually speaking with a person. Both sides get the answers they need faster than writing over email, and chances are you have each other’s undivided attention. It’s much easier to glaze over an e-mail or hide behind a computer if you’re nervous to reach out to someone.

But as important as interpersonal communication is, in both business and personal settings, it seems like companies are relying more and more on their websites and online communication to connect with their customers.

For example, it seems like every few months I have an issue with my cell phone, Internet, television service, etc. I read the service FAQs and the troubleshooting guides online before I decide I need help. In most of these situations I can’t just drive to a store and ask a live person. But rather than easily offering me a phone number where I can reach a knowledgeable and helpful customer service representative, I usually have to dig around the company’s website for this information. And once I finally find a helpline, I have to listen to recordings that try to answer my question – and of course try to direct me to the website for answers. After holding 20 minutes, I finally get someone on the line. Sometimes this person is very knowledgeable, and sometimes they have no idea how to help me.

If you’re like me, you feel a little put off when companies –  whose services you pay for – do everything they can to keep you from connecting with them person-to-person. They want you to find everything you need online without having to speak to a representative. While connecting online is often convenient and certainly has it’s place, do you think companies are missing out when they avoid connecting with their customers on a more personal level?

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