It doesn’t seem to matter what you’re trying to achieve or which company or industry it involves, at some point in your interaction you’ll inevitably face an automated system of some description. Got a problem with an invoice, paying your car tax, ordering something from Amazon, submitting your gas meter readings, checking-in for your flight? All automated!
Whilst sometimes it’s just the automated phone system you need to go through before your call is directed to a customer service agent, or that the automated/online approach is optional rather than mandatory, more often than not nowadays the whole process can only be done online through websites, interfaces and automated email confirmations. But is a reliance on automation the best approach and will it eventually eradicate the human aspect, or will we always want/need that human touch too?
We love automated systems and believe they can significantly improve a customer’s experience if done correctly. They enable companies to be ‘always available’, responsive and efficient. After all, do you realistically expect to talk to a human to place an order via Amazon at 3am? By using an automated process you just get on with it easily, at a time and in a manner that’s convenient to you.
And that’s the point of portals and interfaces – they’re convenient. They’re always on, usually from any device and they give you access to the services and information you want and need when it’s convenient for you – without having to wait in call queues to speak to the next advisor or finding that the company closed at 5pm until 9am Monday and it’s now 5.10pm on a Friday!
That said, despite the growth of automation there will always remain a need to talk to a person from time to time. After all, there are some things we just can’t or don’t want to automate. For example, have you ever noticed that as soon as you want to cancel a service the automation tends to end and you’re suddenly directed to a real-life advisor who will do their best to try and retain your business and talk you out of that cancellation? It’s no coincidence.
Sometimes, just getting access to the information (regardless of how pretty and useful the graphs are) just isn’t enough – you need someone to explain it or help you specifically with your problem and provide guidance. And, of course sometimes, just sometimes, the automation breaks and the humans have to step up and takeover!
The best of both worlds
We think there’s a valuable place for both automated systems and someone at the end of the phone. We provide partners with a variety of automated tools and systems that enable them to retrieve the information they need to place orders, run diagnostics, monitor their networks and more at any time, from any device, anywhere; but we also understand that sometimes they don’t want a myriad of information to sift through – they simply want a person who understands their business and their objectives to talk them through each option and help them take the right next steps to make progress or overcome a problem.
A key example of this is our newly improved EQT (Ethernet Quoting Tool). Some providers use quoting tools (and portals in general) as a way of distancing themselves from customers, believing they will be able to free up their valuable time and improve their efficiency whilst their customers self-service. For some customers this suits – they know what they want and understand all the factors so a quick and easy quoting tool that’s always available suffices. However, even the most seasoned of resellers can sometimes need some help and guidance – maybe a new technology has entered the market that they want to discuss in detail or a customer has a particularly complex requirement they need help with. That’s when an experienced account manager or pre-sales consultant needs to step in. Entanet partners get the best of both worlds – our newly enhanced EQT enables partners to create detailed quotes containing multiple options and costings easily via the synergi interface, but if a partner needs more help or simply prefers to talk through a quotation our account managers and pre-sales consultants are on hand to help.
Similarly, our PWAN customers can access vast amounts of real-time data that would usually be beyond their reach via our highly secure and unique Mirada portal. This provides them with essentially their own network monitoring tool but if they identify an issue they can’t resolve alone or need any assistance, our NOC and premier support teams are on hand to help 24/7.
Whilst portals, quoting tools and automated systems undoubtedly have their uses, they should always be fully supported by a team of knowledgeable and unscripted real human beings with the experience and decision making power to deliver superior customer service experiences. That’s why we continue to invest heavily in our service and sales teams, providing ongoing training, increasing resources and continuously monitoring quality to ensure a top notch service for all.
Have your say!
Which do you prefer- using online portals and systems or speaking to humans? Or do you agree a combination of both is the best option? Do you offer the same in your own business or do you shy away from online systems? Let us know with a comment below.
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