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Automation didn’t replace customer service – Customer Service Simply Failed

Yes – or, it imploded. People have given up on customer service. I’ve given up on customer service. Customer service has given up on itself.

What am I talking about? Let’s look at McDonald’s, or your local bank, or…the just eat app. More and more people want instant access to their product or service. Fast food isn’t much different. It’s instant gratification. Click, click, swipe and my order is in. Recently, I visited McDonald’s and I used their kiosk to place my order. Wow, it was fast, easy and kind of fun. I really liked how I could see the price of every single thing as I clicked it in the menu. I could bulld and configure my burger anyway I wanted it. And there was no medium inbetween, no human who could potentially hear me incorrectly or foul up the order due to a communication issue.

It’s simple. Machines are better at listening and taking input from human beings, than human beings are at listening to each other. It’s true though! There’s no room for error in your order when you plot it into the computer. It can’t be interpreted or communicated wrong. If it still gets made wrong, it’s because someone didn’t read the ticket. And there’s far less chance of that happening. My order just seemed so streamlined when placing it at the Kiosk. Super easy, and I can then see on a big screen which orders are being made. So simple. There was no waiting in line and no having to yell over loud noises in the back. I also didn’t feel pressured that someone is behind me, waiting to place their order. I thought to myself, why didn’t they introduce this method a long time ago.

Now the reverse of that coin. Those kiosks mean that there are less people now employed at McDonald’s to take orders. True. Another example of machines starting to replace the customer service industry. Technology that takes input from humans, and does it better than humans ever could.

There are people who are an exception to the rule. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those people that when you’re at McDonald’s, they’re talking to everyone, they’re getting people to smile, they’re cracking jokes etc. But you don’t find a lot of those kind of people in the world anymore. It’s unfortunate really.

Moving onto another example. There’s some of us in the world who are just shocked at how well Amazon is doing. People want to emulate Amazon, they want to “be the next Amazon.” My advice is keep dreaming, it’s been done. Amazon is now so large, that it would be quite difficult for anyone to dislodge them from what they do in the industry. You can’t be the next Amazon – you have to have a unique idea. Amazon has the e-commerce game cornered.

You want to know why? Because customer service has failed. You go to the store. You search for something in this huge massive store and can’t find anyone to help you find it. When you do eventually find someone, they point in a general direction and then hurriedly run off in another direction. Sound familiar? This is the scene in pretty much all department stores. I recently went to the Bay and I talked to three or four different staff, all giving ideas and pointing in general directions but not a single person said they would come with me to help me find what I was looking for. In the end, the product I was looking for was all sold out. I left the store with nothing purchased.

This is a real problem. There should be a golden rule in the retail world that says, if someone is coming into your store, SELL THEM SOMETHING. Talk to them. Ask them what they’re looking for. I always hear people say, “Can I help you?” Instead, why don’t people ask “Hi how are you this evening, is there something in particular you are looking for tonight?” I would love to train people in department stores. You need to ask the right questions – questions that get you results.

But seriously, you can’t have people leave your store and not buy anything. That’s a huge no-no. You just lost out on a super targeted lead, foot traffic from someone who likely already knows what they want (because people tend to shop online now before purchasing), and who knows when that person will be back. Maybe, because they didn’t find what they wanted, it might be a long time. That person may just live around the corner from your store, but they might not come back for 6 months because they just found it was so big and hard to find things.

Whereas if I just go online, I can find what I want pretty quick. The only downside is I have to wait 1-2 days or more for it to ship out. When that delay is removed, and people can get what they want the same day, retail is going to have a huge problem on their hands.

But what I find when it comes to customer service in retail – people simply don’t care anymore. They don’t get paid commissions in the retail world, and this is the problem. IF people were paid commissions for selling, they would give two nickels to try and make a sale and get paid out on it. There’s no incentive for people to perform as sales people. The sales world and the customer service world will soon be dead, replaced by automatic order systems such as the ones you see at McDonald’s.

The death of the sales and customer service industry will be swift and it will be deafening, and it has already started.