Technology is getting in the way of customer service. Yeah that may seem odd for me to say given that I own a technology company. So be it. I was at the supermarket a couple of days ago and asked the checkout person a question, they tapped something on their keyboard but said nothing. I asked the question again. They then pointed to the LCD screen facing me. The information I wanted was there. I went through the rest of the transaction assuming they could not speak for some reason. At the end of the sale when they handed me the receipt they drones “have a nice day” and moved to the next customer.

While this one experience may not reflect what happens at all supermarket checkouts, it certainly made me wonder about all this technology being put at the counter, especially the customer side technology. It’s like a defence wall being built to protect the retailers from their customers. I hate it as much as I hate these self service checkouts.

While some customers from my company have asked for LCD displays and other intrusive devices (beyond the usual slim customer display) for the customer side of their counter, thankfully most have not, preferring to provide human based customer service.

Friendly knowledgeable customer service is the point of difference small business can win – if it embraces the opportunity wholeheartedly. Sure use the technology but keep it low profile, focus on human to human contact as much as possible. Customers love it and will remember the experience. Especially if bigger business competitors in your space are more focused on technology solutions.

The more technology you have at the counter the greater the opportunity for customer phobic sales staff to hide behind it and not interact and that’s not good for any retail business.

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