The continued rise of automation and online services has made access to information so much easier today than was the case even a few short years ago. The amount of stuff that is at our fingertips is staggering and the increasing use of artificial intelligence is driving enormous efficiency in the contact between a business and its customers. That is until you go off script.
The focus of the automated business world has been to direct customers to the answers to questions that are already known yet as soon as you step out of this paradigm and start asking questions that have not been heard before then you are quickly caught in a Catch 22, where automated calls and chatbots lea you up the garden path only to take you back to where you started.
This happened to me this week when the simple question (to me) of ‘can you tell me what these transactions on my bank statement are for?’ sent the bank into a loop. Repeatedly I was directed to pages that did not answer the question, or asked to ring others who could not answer my question, or asked if I wanted to do something when I did not know what it was I needed. Did I want to dispute the transactions or do I want to identify them as suspicious? I have no idea as I don’t know who they were for. They could well have been something that I had bought. I simply could not remember.
The banks algorithms and scripts are forcing their thinking down together and narrower spirals of options. If you have a problem that varies slightly from their accepted wisdom then finding the right person to speak to is nigh on impossible.
For me this is the same argument as ‘people who liked this also liked this’ that is popular with online traders leading to narrower selections of choice and ultimately no choice at all.
If businesses are not careful, online automation will not improve customer service, it will make it non existent.
I am going to go down to the bank and talk to a person.