Customer service

Human touch lacking in communication with customers

Organisations often say: "We value your feedback. Your feedback is important to us."

But is this true? Based on my frequent experience with banks and telcos, I am beginning to feel that the customer is no longer important and that companies usually pay lip service to customers' feedback.

It seems that only key customers, high-net-worth individuals' requests or an angsty customer's complaint will be attended to.

In the drive to digitalise transactions and empower customers to get help online, the service provider-customer relationship is rapidly being dehumanised.

When we inquire about a product or service, we often have to communicate with an automated bot instead of a person, who would be better equipped to understand our needs.

The interaction is often one-directional - that is, customers submit a request to these corporations, then hope it is received and acted on.

Unlike a physical visit, customers do not get face-to-face assurance that their request is being attended to.

My recent experience with MyRepublic is an example.

I applied online to recontract my broadband service and took leave from work to be at home for the installation.

After the appointment time lapsed, I checked with MyRepublic's customer support team, which said it had not received my recontract request.

It also said there was no way for me to prove that I had performed the transaction on its online portal.

Machines cannot replace the human touch.

Ultimately, the human connection is what will differentiate the great organisations from the good ones.

Jude Ang Hock Guan

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2021, with the headline Human touch lacking in communication with customers. Subscribe