Is efficient problem solving digital?

Digitalization, computer, iPhone & robots
Digitalization, computer, iPhone & robots

This week, I asked myself, once again this question and am not really sure of my answer!


The company I have had a mobile deal for what seems like ages now has, as probably all the others, transformed its client service towards what I suspect one could call digital efficiency. Or whatever it is called, you know that's the part where all the articles pop out of nowhere like daisies and say we will all be replaced by robots.


Now having been in project management for some years, quite a few focussing on cost efficiency as well as digitalisation, I am well aware of the possibilities, opportunities etc. here.

So I do truly understand and get the idea of a cost-saving, efficient transformation of client service. Especially in light of digital means. A lot does really make sense.


However...how efficient does this really prove when frustrated customers would rather just cancel their contract and therefore diminish revenues?


A few days ago, I extended our mobile phone contracts online, using the efficient designed online form. Quick, dirty and sleek. Wow, cheers to #digitalization.


Only, after some days of waiting, I still hadn't received any confirmation whatsoever. A little annoyed, I decided to get in touch with the company.


What I had not planned upon, is that this revealed to be a real uphill battle.

Customer experience difficult and gone wrong
Customer experience difficult and gone wrong


I searched via their homepage for an email. Impossible to find.


A telephone number. Difficult but could be found. I dialed the number - after I had accepted that yes, for training purposes you can record this conversation, confirmed that yes, this is a question regarding the mobile number I am calling from, I had to give a personal code that I of course couldn't recall - who does remember? The journey continues. After three times where the robotic voice tells me she could not understand me, I am sent a text with a number I type in. I think ok, now I will be able to speak to customer service, yay!

But: no! Another menu is read by the robot and again, they don't understand what I am saying. Until...they just tell me that all the information concerning the case I have asked can be found under www. you know the rest. Beep! That's it.

I can't believe this!


I go on the webpage - again - find I can contact someone per chat. 

A little irritated, I type furiously in the chat where someone very politely welcomes me and tells me they are redirecting my request to a specialist.

Sounds good.

The specialist can't see anything and can't help me with extending my contract as I had special conditions blablabla.....and: cut!


Eureka! I have an idea and look into the imprint where the company has to - if I am not mistaken - give an email one can write to.

So that I do.

Hooray! I actually receive a reply, upon which I have to provide more data and then receive the reply that the contract was not extended - so magically the form disappeared - and that they would gladly help me.


So just to sum up:


1) from a customer's perspective:

  • online form did not work,
  • calling and speaking to robots was strenuous and did not work apart wasting my time and nerves,
  • online information obviously was not helpful,
  • the email was the only helpful thing and that is actually not the purpose of that email address

Conclusion: the company made me lose a lot of time, a lot of nerves and nearly lost me as a client - I only decided not to switch companies because well it's more comfortable not to cancel etc.


2) from the company's perspective:

  • online forms cost in design, maintenance and still have to be processed
  • a call center with robots etc. also has costs (amongst others constantly having to be updated)
  • online information obviously as well, incl. design, maintenance, etc.
  • redirecting emails landing at the imprint address is also a waste of somebody's time...and time is money (first thing one learns in finance course)

Conclusion: I am not sure that all these digital cost efficient items are really saving the company that much...


Even if I am a great fan of digitalization for a lot of things, I still do believe that sometimes, a simple issue can be simply and quickly solved with a good old call center - not to mention the human aspect...this was proven directly to me in a max. 5 minute call today with a flight company to book a baby bassinet and a baby meal for upcoming flights.


5 minutes max. and not only was my issue resolved, but I hang up with a smile as my contact on the other side was polite, kind and...just kind :)

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