Michael Podolsky
Michael Podolsky
CEO and Co-Founder of PissedConsumer.com

When we buy a product or service, we expect everything to go smoothly. However, this does not always happen in life, and failures can occur. In such cases, to resolve your consumer issue, you have to contact customer support. Have you always had positive communication experiences? How can you protect yourself from unprofessional customer service?

PissedConsumer interviewed Rob Dwayer, the Director of Customer Engagement at Happitu and a Next in Queue podcast host, to find answers to these questions and gain insights into customer service.

In this video, the expert discusses why customer services and some consumers are more inclined to have a chat rather than voice conversations, the role of new technologies, including ChatGPT, in customer support, and shares tips for consumers to improve their experience. 

Customer Service Support Through Chat and Over the Phone

Michael: Why are customer services more inclined to have a chat rather than a voice conversation?

Rob Dwyer: A lot of companies think that agents can handle more chats at a time than they can phone calls. And so they see some cost savings there: Maybe I can have an agent handle 3 to 5 chats. 

Now, from a consumer standpoint, sometimes I might prefer to chat. Maybe it's because I'm multitasking. I've used chat in the past, and I like it because I might be doing something else. And when you're on the phone, you really kind of need your full attention. So there are definitely some consumer demands. 

I think the other reason is, and this is going to become more and more prevalent, the use of chatbots to augment actual humans. And, as a consumer, you may not know it until it becomes glaringly obvious that you are not actually chatting with a person. I'm chatting with a machine. That can still be OK if it's a good chatbot, I have the right expectations, and my problem is not very complicated. Then, that can work out for me. But if I have the wrong expectations, that can go downhill in a hurry. If I have something very complicated, I may not be able to find a resolution through a chatbot, which is just going to frustrate me. And then I'm going to be frustrated by the time I actually get to a real person.

ChatGPT and New Technologies in Customer Service

Michael: Do you know why I prefer a chat over the phone when I need to contact customer service? I hate voice prompt systems in large organizations before I get to the agent.  

Increase in usage of ChatGPTs: Companies will have a much greater capacity to handle customer service requests, and they will not care as much about quality because they have the capacity to handle quality and negativity. That will have a wrong effect on consumers. What do you think?

Rob Dwyer: I think you're absolutely spot on. We are in a moment right now where there is a lot of new technology that people are excited about. They're trying to figure out how they can implement it. What's going to happen is that some companies are going to get it wrong. They're going to implement things, it's going to go south, and it will be maybe a small disaster, maybe a big disaster.

We'll see what happens. More thoughtful companies are going to take a more measured approach. There's an advantage to being first to market with a product, but there's an advantage to being a laggard when it comes to how you go about serving your customers and the channels you use. I may be able to save some money by implementing a technology that allows me to reduce the headcount in my support center and the number of people I have answering customer service emails, chats, and phone calls. But if my customers are getting the wrong information or bad information or feel like it's a bad experience, there is a bigger risk to the long-term brand reputation that you're putting on the line with the technology that, quite honestly, we are just at the very forefront of. 

I think we need to take a look and see what problems we can solve with this. The rush to implement it into customer service is probably a little misguided.

Michael: Do you know that some local courts are considering using ChatGPT to issue judgments?

Rob Dwyer: We've already seen Michael, an attorney who used ChatGPT, and it cited a case that was made up from whole cloth. That attorney is in some pretty hot water now because the arguments that were made in a court of law were based on quote-unquote case law that didn't exist. That is a big problem with ChatGPT right now, and in other large language models, I shouldn't just say ChatGPT. There are others out there. It certainly got the most of the press, but the way these models work is that they are language models. They have studied language through the Internet, and they are trying to respond to whatever prompts you give in a way that is readable and communicates in natural language.

They are not yet good at giving accurate information. They can do some really cool stuff. But when it comes to accuracy, there are a lot of issues, and that's the piece that I think companies need to be wary of ‘How do I ensure that this technology just doesn't make stuff up to my customers?’

Customer Service Policies and Interaction With Customers

Michael: How does a company behave in cases of aggravated customers? What are the policies that you see out there? Which are the good ones, which are the bad ones?

Rob Dwyer: The first thing that a company can do is help their frontline people who are interacting with the customers every day understand the importance of that relationship with a customer and give some trust to those people to do what's right. We get hung up on when we get to a certain size; often, we get hung up on policy. And so we stick out policies, and we say, Well, this is how you handle this, and this is how you handle that.

The reality is most policies, there are exceptions, but most policies should be guidelines. Sometimes, it makes sense to step out of the line for a particular customer to make a situation right by them to really rectify whatever has gone wrong. And sometimes, a relationship restoration doesn't mean that, as a company, I'm going to make money on that particular transaction.

What it can mean, though, is that in the eyes of that consumer, I lived up to my promise, whatever that was. And you even see this in online reviews. I know that people see this on PissedConsumer when companies actually do reach out and rectify an issue that the review changes and that becomes a part of the story. Maybe my product wasn't great or the service wasn't great. But this is how they took care of me. This is how they rectified that. When I see that as a consumer, I know that, well, maybe not everyone knows this, but companies are going to stub their toes right. They're, they're going to screw up from time to time. When I see the companies that screw up but then fix it and work directly with the consumer to make it right, those are the companies that I trust because even when things went wrong, they took care of the customer.

So I would say number one, empower your employees to do that, to understand what the guidelines are. And even if they don't have the power to fix something, encourage them to escalate things to someone who does have the power to make that change because it may be, you know what, this is outside my power. Maybe I have a certain amount that I can refund on the given transaction, and then this is going to be more than that. Encourage them to talk to their supervisor, and if it needs to go up from there, let it go up from there. Those kinds of behaviors by brands and their customer service are the kinds of things that people remember. 

Michael: Customer services have policies. They abide by those policies. They cannot step left or right. Does the manager have the same policies? Do they have guidelines to work by, or do they have wider policies to work by? How does it work? Why does it work sometimes? Why doesn't it work sometimes?

Rob Dwyer: It depends on the organization, and this is where, unfortunately, brands have trained consumers to have certain expectations. So we've had enough interactions as consumers with companies when we have a problem. And we hear that frontline agent say, Well, you know, that's just the policy; there's nothing I can do. And then we get really pissed off. We asked to speak to a manager, and the manager was able to do something that that frontline agent either couldn't or wouldn't do. And so if that happens enough times as a consumer, that's my expectation. My expectation is I need to talk to someone else. And that's where I think the brands serve themselves better by giving some leeway and some discretion to their frontline agents so that less people feel like, ‘Hey, I need to escalate this.’

Good and Bad Examples of Customer Service 

Michael: What is a good process within the company to pass input from consumers through customer service into the production cooperation lines of the company? Have you seen good examples, and have you seen bad examples?

Rob Dwyer: Depending on the size of your organization. Maybe that is kind of where you are if you're a small business today; you know, one of the things that I'm involved with is a product called Happitu, a speech analytics and sentiment analysis platform. And so one of the things that we're doing with that is we're analyzing all of these customer interactions and highlighting the main things that people are calling about, identifying the trends and doing it in a way we're taking in like 100% of these interactions, which you can't do with a human. So, the most advanced way is to use a platform that is digging in and analyzing all of these interactions, be they voice calls, emails, chats, or social media. There are platforms out there that do that today.

Customer Service Tips for Consumers

Michael: Thank you very much, Rob, for your answer. Do you have any final message that you would like to share with consumers? 

Rob Dwyer: If you approach your needs with a little bit of empathy for the person you're talking to, remember that they're human beings. There's a much better chance of you both arriving at that resolution, whatever that is, than if you come at it guns blazing. So, the best advice I can give is if you've got a problem, start being nice to the people who can potentially help you. And hopefully, you don't end up at PissedConsumer.com.

Have you ever connected customer service? What has been your experience? You may share your opinion in the comments form below or leave a review on PissedConsumer.com. For more expert tips, subscribe to our YouTube channel


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