20/05/2019

Apart from being the tagline from a fantastic Jackie Chan movie, this is a question I force myself to answer several times a day.

No, I am not having an existential crisis. Nor have I contracted amnesia. Neither am I asking for someone else to answer.

I ask myself this question to make sure that I communicate in a manner people expect of (and associate with) me.

But why even ask this in the first place?

Good question. For me, there are two considerations.

First, the way people communicate is changing. When I was younger, people talked. If that person was far away, you shouted. If they couldn’t hear you, well, it probably wasn’t that important anyway and could wait until next time.

As time has moved on, phone, then email, then SMS, then IM and now chat have all taken over from the spoken word as the primary method of business communications. With each iteration, the distance between the communicating parties increases and we are now at the point where I could conduct business without ever communicating with a real person, such are the advances in Chatbots and their AI.

I am so far removed from the true source of communication, each other, that I feel genuinely detached. As a customer, I’m not sure I rate that experience.

The other issue is to do with identity. Face to face, I am an average sort of chap with a reasonable intelligence. From behind a computer, I could be so much more.

On email, I can be multi-lingual (Google Translate), vastly more informed (via any Search Engine) and with an unwavering command of the written word (Grammarly). With time to craft and consider a response, I can turn myself into whatever I want. I don’t have to be boring old me – I can be ME ++.

So, this results in a scenario where no one is sure who they are talking to. Man, or machine? Genuine guy, or fantastic, fabricated fellow? Artificial Intelligence, or Authentic Individual? Is this fair?

As a business, I want to champion the customer experience. I want to deliver on that personal touch. While I accept that Chatbots and AI have their place, my customers want to deal with me and it would do them a disservice if I put automation between us or gave them a different ‘me’ to the one they are used to.

Everyone is different, and everyone wants that to be understood when they do business. Standardisation and automation work when you can evidence that those same people aren’t that different after all. While this may be true, my customer service spirit recoils at the thought. Yes, the AI solution may be capable of resolving my problem, but I want to talk to a real person, for goodness sake!

To that end, we at GT still push telephony as the communication method of choice. In the absence of face-to-face communication (because 55% is in the body language), spoken word is the best alternative (38% is tone and inflection, 7% is the words). If you want to be understood, there is no better method of getting your meaning across long distances.

So, don’t get caught up in the latest fads and lose yourself in the ‘next big thing’. Business runs because of the people involved – you, as a customer, buy into the experience as well as the product. Anything you can do to enshrine this is of benefit to your bottom line – people buy from people.

Keep it simple, easy to understand and put the customer in focus – that’s the GT way. Give us a call and a real person will help you.

Genuine Telecoms – GT