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When Did Customer Service Become a Digital Disconnect?

Collins Dictionary defines Customer Service as “the way that companies behave toward their customers, for example, how well they treat them.” So let’s think about that and how customer service should enhance customer satisfaction and the customer experience. Too often customer service is a promise made by vendors—even in the aviation world—that results in long waits on a phone line punching buttons to get past automated recordings. And don’t even get me started with the voice response systems that don’t seem to ever understand what I am saying.


Fundamentally, it’s important to choose a solution and vendor partner that doesn’t require support all the time; a customer should not be constantly making repeated phone calls and have to address issues with the product or service.

There are times, though, when you need help, you need assistance and a resolution right then, and in the aviation industry, the problem is usually time critical. Whether that’s updating compliance documents, on-boarding a new aircraft or getting access for your vendors, aviation departments do not have time to wait on the phone or for a ticket to be opened, reviewed, assigned and so on to get resolution.

The Digital Experience

In some cases, automation can be an efficient use of your time. However, in many cases, you as the customer and consumer know what you need, but when you call, you get the dreaded phone tree or voice response system. Your experience of calling is a process of choosing your first option on the phone tree, and then the second option, and then maybe a third or fourth. Now you need to leave a message, or you may get a person, but that person can’t actually help you. They open a ticket and put it through the channels to get a resolution on their time schedule.

The NewVoiceMedia’s 2018 “Serial Switchers” report results indicated that the main reasons customers cancel their services and look elsewhere are service related. As a customer they:

  1. do not feel appreciated.

  2. are not able to speak to a person who can provide them the answers they are looking for.

  3. experience rude and unhelpful employees.

  4. are being passed around to multiple people.

Three of those four are directly impacted by the digital experience. If you have to push more than one button or repeat yourself more than once to possibly get to the person who can help you, you are certainly going to cite points 1, 2, and 4 as reasons for frustration and change.

Number 3 is indicative of a company culture and that is for another blog post. 😊

The Human Element

Based on your past experiences, how exciting is it when you call customer service and the person on the other end answers the call and is empowered to help you on the spot?

Humans are naturally social creatures, and when looking for support, need the human interaction. Confidence in customer service is when you make that call, you will 1) talk to a person the first time, 2) talk to a person that is empowered and has the knowledge to assist on the spot and 3) talk to someone who will take the time to work with you, treating you with respect and empathy. These things make a difference.

Here are 5 interesting facts I found in regards to the customer service experience that HelpScout (they have 75 of them if you want to do some extra reading) put together that I thought were great indicators of what we find important.

  • “Stellar service should be non-negotiable, and merchants shouldn't hide behind self-service tools and technology when it comes to knowing their products and taking care of their customers.”- Lauren Freedman, President of the E-tailing Group

  • 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. - Harris Interactive

  • “In an era when companies see online support as a way to shield themselves from ‘costly’ interactions with their customers, it’s time to consider an entirely different approach: building human-centric customer service through great people and clever technology.” - Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”

  • 68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62% said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key. - American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer

  • Today’s consumers do not buy just products or services — more and more, their purchase decisions revolve around buying into an idea and an experience.” - McKinsey

Customer service and your experience should be at the forefront when determining your vendor partners. When looking for solutions for your flight department, look for a company with proven response times and a commitment to having knowledgeable and empowered people answering every call (preferably in two rings or less). Don’t be another caller trying to navigate a digital phone tree, repeating yourself multiple times, or getting lost in the abyss of the submitted service ticket and the digital disconnect.