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Automated Systems Serve Introverts Well

Michelle Miller over at Wonder Branding tells a story that is a valuable customer insight waiting to happen. She describes her introverted husband calling Merrill Lynch's automated update line for his weekly check. When the system alerts him that he's being transfered to a customer service representative he hangs up in disgust. Michelle makes the point that introverts like to use automated systems and are frustrated when they have to deal with people.

This is a valuable insight to people designing systems to interact with customers. The experience and frustration of trying to reach a "real live person" receives more press. Designing great systems that operate well without live person to person communication serves introverted customers well.

If you have some sort of automated phone system you might research the number of calls that terminate just as they are being transfered to a human operator. If your system logs caller ID information you should check to see if the same callers call right back to try again to find the right information from the automated system.

Even at a micro scale this is an important distinction to keep in mind. We all have customers, friends and coworkers who prefer asynchronous communication(e-mail, voicemail, etc.) versus face to face or live voice communication. Don't assume in these digital times that everyone prefers interacting with a human.

February 25, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Web/Tech | Permalink


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I do agree that if i call a move theatre for time-listings, an automated voice system is the best way to go. All one has to do is press a couple of buttons and BOOM, movie times at your finger tips.

However, i only find this useful if i do not have the newspaper at hand. Many times, when trying to sort out confusion, especially with cell phone companies, computers, or when dealing with schools, i want to talk to somebody and quick. It is not the most useful concept of waiting through a list of categories to choose from and picking the lesser of evils in hopes i eventually talk to someone who can actually help me.

As a student at Depaul, simply trying to verify account details, mailroom inquires, or contact the correct department, i almost would prefer going out on foot to the actual service desk across town than to pick up a phone and prepare for a frustrating 20-30 minuet scavenger hunt (depending on how long i am put on hold).

I figure, if i wanted to skip a personal communicative transaction, an e-mail would suffice. But if i take the time to pick up the phone, i would want the right person on the other end as quickly as possible and not an automated voice system.

Posted by: Kevin | Feb 25, 2005 2:05:57 PM