I read today, in the Guardian, that a Japanese bank is to introduce robots to deal with customers in branches.
Yesterday I saw on the news that London Underground has started the closure of ticket halls, due largely to the fact that less than 3% of customers were interacting with staff for their ticket purchase.
Now while these two stories at first seem quite unrelated, they are both about the replacement of customer service by either machines or robots. Although in the case of London Underground it is fair to report that more staff will be available for other customer service duties across the stations.
Now assuming, in the case of the Japanese bank, that this is more than just a PR stunt to get some brand coverage, can machines and robots really do a better job than people in providing customer service?
Well yes, if the company in question has lousy customer service, take note nPower and Ryan Air, voted two of the worst companies for customer service in the UK, in a Which? survey of 3,600 consumers in 2014.
But a big fat no for those companies providing excellent customer service through people. My favourite at the moment is The National Trust staff at Ham House, who all are truly fantastic at making your visit a memorable one, irrespective of whether they are paid staff or volunteers.
I for one don't want a robot selling me tickets, pouring my flat white, nor for that matter asking me if I'd like to sample a beer brewed to the recipe used in the 1700's!
Robots are cool but humans surely still need to be the answer!
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