Customer Service and Man v/s Machine

29 Jul

Over Staff Under Serve

This one is almost a rant post! It also takes over from my earlier post on customer service.

Why is it that front desk people do NOT prioritize the customer standing in front of them over jobs that can be done later? This applies to the bank teller who is typing on his desktop (maybe even playing games, for all I know!) while I am standing in front of him (thank god for online banking!). It applies to the retailer check out person who is busy counting cash when I am in front of her. And it applies to the receptionist at the clinic who is talking on the phone when he is supposed to be taking down my details for the doctor!

This is not a higher order skill thing – it is basic common sense and courtesy. But, clearly, does not exist in most people! This one really has me mad actually – with the best automation in the world (refer online banking/ e-commerce), many people still prefer human interaction – precisely BECAUSE of the “touchy-feely” factor. Then it is unpardonable that frontline people let them down! At this rate, the gaps in technology will soon vanish and people will really start preferring the dehumanized / roboticised world popularised by many sci-fi movies!

I can even sympathise with this scenario for countries that are sparsely populated. But in India, which in another 15 years will be the most populous country in the world! this makes NO sense! We do need to keep our people gainfully employed! After all, this is the country where parking meters have people manning them! It is the country where 10 laborers can be seen weeding a 10 X 10 patch of grass all day long! (We almost mirror Roosevelt’s New Deal in our efforts at job creation!) Then WHY would you not make your people facing employees better attuned to customer service?

new deal

Maybe has to do with warped sense of priority and the inability to sequence! So, needs to be turned into a process – just like say Fast Food companies do – (see earlier post with examples of the Darshinis in India)

One of the “new venture ideas” I have been evaluating has been a Retail Training Institute. And the FIRST thing that it will train the frontline check out folks will be on this sequencing (and the second on how to pack merchandise in shopping bags! – heavier things first and softer ones on top! – duh!).


One Response to “Customer Service and Man v/s Machine”


  1. Ok, I’m convinced – technology can’t do customer service! | joshsang - September 5, 2014

    […] like and admire, with a winner promo, gets the “last mile” fulfilment wrong! 😦 (See another earlier post on Customer Service and man vs. machine, which has another example of last mile not […]

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