Fact or Fiction… Has service improved over the past thirty years? On February 2, 1987, Time Magazine’s cover story was titled “Pul-eeze! Will Somebody Help Me? Frustrated American consumers wonder where the service went.” This article painted scenarios of how poor service delivery had become in a multitude of industries such as: banking, airlines, retail, automotive, home services and technology.
The article went on further to point out how corporations were facing labor shortage challenges, rising prices and competitive pressures, forcing them to cut costs by replacing human labor with computers and self-service initiatives. Sound familiar?
Certainly since then, the advancement of new technologies in customer service such as: ATMs, kiosks, CRMs, IVRs, knowledge bases, chat, video chat and others, coupled with devices with web access to information, gives us the ability to self-serve and conduct transactions more conveniently. But, has it truly made service better overall?
In my recent service interactions, customer service has been mediocre, at best. There have been pockets of service excellence, but few and far between. Most of my poor service experiences were due to the service provider’s lack of knowledge, poor communications, lack of care, rudeness, responsiveness technology not working correctly, lack of follow up or time to resolve my problem. Companies delivering excellent service were passionate about service. Or, like me, they were “obsessed with service!”
So, given all of the efforts to improving service with advanced technology, continuous improvement with programs such as; quality circles, reengineering, six sigma and Kaizen, and focusing on the customer with programs such as; customer satisfaction surveys, customer loyalty, customer experience, customer effort and customer journey mapping, I ask; “Has service improved over the last thirty years?” Please let me know what you think.
By Randy Selleck, Senior Service Executive