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Remembering the “Customer” in Customer Service

By Bhavna Bhatia

Where Technology Meets Customer Service
Remember the good old days when it was as easy as pressing “0” to get an operator on the phone? I don’t either.

Not only is e-commerce increasingly taking the place of face-to-face business transactions, but now human interaction is being eliminated completely with close to 80 percent of businesses using Interactive Voice Responders (IVRs). You know, those automated machines that answer when you call, that never get you to the person you want to talk to, that hang up on you if you press “0” too many times—yep, they frustrate us all the same.

According to a study conducted by Stella Service, of the top ten U.S. Internet retailers (Staples, Apple, Dell, Office Depot, Walmart, Sears, QVC, OfficeMax, CDW, and Amazon), Amazon is the ONLY one that does not utilize an IVR. In other words, Amazon is the only company where you won’t have to jump through hoops to speak with an actual human being. 

The purpose of an IVR is actually to help companies decrease time spent on routing calls by categorizing the people that are calling through the use of some self-identification element, such as an account number, extension, or reason for calling. When the caller does not have this information, however, they are dumped into a general queue, which often has a long wait time, is routed to a receptionist that cannot answer specific questions, and often misdirects you, causing you to have to start the entire process over again (tick, tock, tick, tock).

Sure, cost considerations usually cause companies to implement these technologies in an effort to make better use of their paid employees’ time. But this is at the cost of the satisfaction of your customers, so considering the alternative is not out of the question. Ultimately, your customers want to have their questions attended to and resolved in the least time possible, saving them time; Time that they could potentially use to shop on your website.


  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative
  • Women's Business Enterprise National Council
  • Forest Stewardship Council

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