Customer Service: Humans or Computers

Customer service is very important for businesses that want to have satisfied customers. Web host Rack Space does not even have an annoying voice mail menu but uses live customer service representatives. However, that is the exception to the rule.
When wanting to reach customer service at most companies, big and small, you often find yourself going through a customer service maze.
Often times, you can’t even find a number to call but must use online tools (a form, email, frequently asked questions database, etc).
Companies want to save money and one way to do so is to cut out the salary of 10, 50, 1000… live customer service representatives. Using technology a company can service customer’s needs for less money. for example strongly urges its customers to use its online tools for customer assistance – a 1-800 number is hard to find.
The NY Times writes EBay, another Internet giant, likewise has no customer-service number listed on its site. Instead, like Amazon, eBay asks its customers to fill out an online form, and they receive a response in 24 to 48 hours, said Hani Durzy, an eBay spokesman.
“We’ve worked to make sure customer support is dealing with community issues as quickly and effectively as possible, and this is the best system we’ve come up with,” Mr. Durzy said. (EBay does provide a phone number to a subset of its power sellers who qualify for phone-based service.)
Increasingly, it is the Internet that engenders the frustration. Lou Garcia, president of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business, a group based in Alexandria, Va., said that in a recent survey of 1,000 people about their experiences with customer service, the society found that “at the top of the dislike list is that they can’t find a human.”
Mr. Garcia, said that he planned to stick to his guns; that it was in a company’s best interests to make sure a customer could get through to a person. “Because if they can solve your problem, the chances are really high that you’ll be a satisfied customer,” he said.
Mr. Garcia said his organization helped put out a consumer resource handbook published by the General Services Administration. The handbook, which includes a directory of corporations, with many phone numbers for customer service, along with e-mail and Web addresses, is available online at