Who wants to talk to a robot?

Labour saving devices. Pah. What happened to a labour of love?

First off, I have to say I’m no Luddite: I adore technology. But not all technology represents progress. It makes me sick how keen companies are to rip the humanity out of their customer service. So much so, their damn robot henchmen are now programmed to answer back.

And if I sign up to one of these wonderful membership organisations and I think I am going to get something helpful for my few quid each month, then surely I should expect to speak to a real person now and then?! Maybe a real person calls me to say thank you for my money? Maybe a real person is there when I just want to call and ask a question because somewhere in the techno babble I missed which button to click!!

If I tell the bank’s robot answering machine, that I want to speak to an adviser, the cheeky sod says ‘and what do you want to speak an adviser about?’ in a sort of ‘what the hell do you think you’re playing at’ sort of tone. Shut your stupid silicon face, I pay your wages, robot!

If I want an adviser, I should get an adviser, pronto.

And it isn’t just the lack of a human touch that pees me off it’s the blatant ‘treat you like an idiot and lie to you’ approach that is demanded of the few humans that they do employ!!

BT for example…God are they s**t!!! Banks?! They are simply incredible how they just do not value us as smaller businesses! I have been a NatWest client for several years…they now tell me there are no business bank managers in branch!! ALL smaller businesses have to talk to call centres and machines! But of course, they still take our money. Muppets.

In call centres the robot lady would have you believe that your call is screened in order to be filtered through to the perfect person, who will quickly handle your query to your ultimate satisfaction. That’s a load of BS. What actually happens is the frontline headset jockey the about to take the call – and it’s the same team, fielding the full gamut of calls – they get a little beep in their ear with message telling them the basic category of what you want, so they can have a smidgen of forewarning and plan their quickest route to telling you to f**k off and have a nice day.

Whatever happened to the customer is always right? Customer is king, even? The current ethos seems to be, get the customer out of our face as soon as possible, and if we can get a robot henchman to sort it, then we probably should.

It’s a terrible state of customer service. It’s bad for the economy and it’s bad for business.

First banks sent all the calls go offshore to India, training their teams in Bangalore to ask your thoughts on what’s going on in Coronation Street while their ‘computer is going slow’ – which begs the question, why is everyone’s bloody computer always going slow?’ There are some big, big businesses out there with truly glacial I.T, whose information super highway is more like a B-road stuck behind a tractor. Why is this?

Could it be even robots get tired when they’re overworked??

As a race, we’re leaning too heavily on technology right now.

People buy people. Always have, always will.

You can’t upsell with robots. You can’t improve customer retention with robots. You can’t engender better loyalty with robots.

So until the robots properly take over… which grows more and more likely, with every Internet of Things announcement (did you see the wristband that gives you a 300-volt electric shock every time your bank goes below a certain level? You can even outsource your conscience and buyers’ remorse now. Who needs willpower when you’ve got robots!?)

…yes, until the robots finally take over, we need to get back to old fashioned values. They need to come back round. Fashion moves in 20-year cycles. The internet and mobile phones have been part of the furniture for 20 years now. It’s time to remember what we were before we were all slaves to technology.

Put simply, good old-fashioned values need to become fashionable again.

Rant over. Off out for a ride on my Penny Farthing to clear my head.


If you’d like some advice on driving profits through excellent customer service, give me a call.

Photo credit, with big thanks

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/73645804@N00/3196112134″>five</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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