Customer Service Robots

Robotic customer service drives me crazy. Employees may be saying all the right words but, when those words are delivered robotically, the result is a forced, insincere impression. The message that’s actually communicated is, “my company makes me say these exact words.”

I experienced a vivid example of robotic behavior just last week while staying at a nice hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. The facilities were spotless and the employees all very friendly. However, after any interaction with any of the hotel’s employees, face-to-face or on the phone, the employee always asked, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

The first time was okay, even though the question was asked robotically. By the third time, however, it started to dawn on me that this was a scripted spiel. Any time I called the operator, room service, the front desk, or any other hotel department, the interaction always concluded with the exact words, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” By my fourth day at the hotel I wanted to ask my question like this – “Can you please tell me where the health club is and no, there is nothing else you can help me with today.” That may seem harsh, but the question was obviously a script that the hotel’s management thought conveyed care. It didn’t. It conveyed insincerity since it was a script. And in four days I never once heard a guest say “Yes, there is something else you can help me with today.” (And I paid attention just to see).

The expectation of employees should be to demonstrate a sincere desire to help a customer. Employees can even be expected to conclude any interaction in a friendly way. But please don’t script those words in an inflexible, "every time, every customer", manner. It comes across as robotic and quickly becomes a joke to the customer and employees. Let employees determine how they’ll say the words and also let them determine if the words are even appropriate in every circumstance.

Let’s eliminate robotic customer service!