There’s a whole side business in marketing devoted to customer care. And there should be. Caring for customers is important. Back in the 90s as telephone and computers were learning to get along, call centers were investing heavily in computer telephony integration. Software was reading inbound telephone numbers and matching them up with database records, putting customer information at customer service people’s finger tips. It was a great use of technology. Problem resolution was making great strides. But the equation required putting people in the call center, which was a recurring expense.
Along came something called IVR (interactive voice response) “for credit cards press or say 1.” This invention helped keep headcount down in the call center by providing recorded information via prompt. Enter the web, which allowed the web to provide problem resolution via FAQs and tutorials – again less people.
I received a call from Chase Bank last night – automated, of course – asking me to call a toll-free number because someone was trying to change my account access code or some such. In a panic I called and for 15 minutes was pushing prompts. McCrazy! They called me. Luckily, the wifus (pronounced why-fus) was nearby, because I stalled at a prompt number 12 when asked for my debit card number…which I don’t own. “They want your ATM card number honey.” Turns out everything was fine and it was false alarm. So they say.
I’m so glad JPMorgan Chase is developing iPhone apps to make people’s banking lives easier. But do you think they – and everyone else with customers – could employ a universal “I want a human” telephone prompt like 0-0? That would be progress. Peace!