January 26, 2023
Vox recently published an article where visiting Assistant Professor of Operations and Technology Management, Michelle Shell, discussed the challenges of phone-based customer service.
Some companies are making it difficult or impossible for customers to call, in order to avoid the cost of answering calls altogether. Instead, companies engineer chatbots that provide canned answers on their websites. If companies do offer the ability to call, they are often ineffective and consumers are required to go through automated options before getting to a live person – if they ever do.
“Eliminating human contact when people are feeling anxious causes them to be dissatisfied
with their own decision-making”
Shell discussed how it can be harrowing for customers when there’s no one on the other end of the line, especially when they’re anxious. Her research shows that it is “critically important” consumers feel as though they can reach customer service in moments of distress, explaining that, “Eliminating human contact when people are feeling anxious causes them to be dissatisfied with their own decision-making, even if they’re making good decisions.” People often want to speak to someone when they’re on edge, or at least should have the option to do so. “Reintroducing notions of human contact by giving them these options to connect with the company, even if they don’t actually use it, can restore trust.”