Don’t Cut Customer Service Corners

Let me look into my crystal ball . . . One of the biggest technology predictions for the near future is the rising use of bots. When I say bots, I don’t mean little BB-8s rolling around factories, I mean the virtual kind that appear to be seen as the cheaper alternative to customer service staff. Well, if there’s one area of your business you don’t want to risk . . . it’s customer service! And here’s why:


Retail fashion brand ASOS will be having an interesting time in their offices at the moment thanks to their latest technological upgrade. Discounting the importance of having an actual human manage their social media traffic, they were replaced with bots. Bots which would look at a person’s comment or post, align certain keywords with a pre-determined response and then give the customer a false sense of security that their product was being handled while it sat in the back end waiting for a real human to take over the reins.

What happened next is nothing short of computer-generated comedy!

Nick Paterniti was attempting to chase up a significant refund for a returned order that hadn’t come through to his bank account yet. Despite a series of frustrating emails with the ASOS Helpdesk, he turned – as most of us do – to the more public complaint forum. Facebook. Despite a rather clear message in his post on their wall, it was greeted with a very generic response from ASOS Ashley which didn’t actually match his query. Following this comedic response, people began to comment on the post and clearly used a series of words which closely matched ASOS’ pre-determined keywords because all of a sudden people making a comedic remark about the situation were encouraged by a supposedly never-ending series of different ASOS employees to send their shipping details via PM for follow up. Whoops.

It is a serious case of ‘When bots go wrong . . .’

But the more important concern is why you would want to sacrifice the possibility of a great customer service opportunity. Clearly the people who have gone to the effort of posting on the Facebook page are pretty annoyed. Chances are they tried the proper channels, didn’t get a satisfactory response and are now trying to will the company into action with a more public protest. And if they have reached this point then most of them will probably be on the fence as to whether they return to your service or try out one of your competitors.

In this age of digital communication, great customer service isn’t an option. There will always be someone out there providing a more advanced, cheaper and effective service due to our wider reach today, but great customer service is something which will keep customers coming back and also get them talking when you solved their problem. (Sure, it will be less than they would talk if you didn’t solve their problem. But no business wants that kind of publicity!)