Hah! I noticed that the Citi Simplicity credit card is advertising that, by pressing "0," cardholders can talk to a real live person! What a concept! No more voice mail "Hell!"
Look, one of the largest financial corporations in the known universe has decided that talking to real live humans could bring them more customers.If you are the owner or operator of a small business and you´ve wondered if you were missing out on voice mail (also known as "IVR" or "Interactive Voice Response") because you couldn’t afford it, perhaps your tight budget has done you a favor. (See my comments from an earlier post.) Paul English has even set up a Web page that lists how customers can bypass IVR to get to human beings.
As a customer, I hate IVR, except when I can access my account information after normal business hours. There is a role for IVR, but don´t use it to build a wall between your customers and you. Sure, you may be able to show a cost savings by implementing IVR, but what are the hidden costs? For example, will it enable you to increase the number of customers or enhance the ability of your biggest customers to do business with you. Or, to put it another way, are you cutting revenue/losing customers as well as cutting costs?
Voice mail used improperly (when it doesn’t enhance the customer service experience) reminds me of one of the T-shirts my son wears. It shows an arm extended straight out with the hand held up and the caption reads, “Talk To The Hand!” That attitude is funny on a 12-year old’s T-shirt. It’s not funny when a customer experiences the same attitude trying to service his account or even buy something new. But many businesses don’t realize that high tech is not always a replacement for the “high touch” of human interactions.
Ask yourself, will voice mail enhance, or inhibit, your relationships with your customers?
"Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships."
–H. Ross Perot