I am currently shopping for a Caribbean vacation, the first one for my family of 4, and I find myself overwhelmed with the amount of choices and online information. There are so many travel sites offering different packages and carrier options. The carriers themselves also have their own websites where you can acquire information and even book your trip directly with them. So in a world where there are so many choices and the buyer is swimming in too much information, what do you do? Well, I can either book directly with my preferred carrier, or I can go through a travel agent who will walk me through the steps and provide quality customer service. I typically make her job easier by doing all my research and presenting her with the package that I would like to purchase and then have her book it for me, this is my personal process. Sure I could do that directly through a website, but call me old fashioned, I like dealing with an actual person, not a computer.
The same is true with so many other industries, including our own - gifts and awards. There are many e-commerce websites that offer you online pricing and purchasing options but they lack a personal touch. They lack customer service, unless your idea of customer service is a box popping up on your computer to “chat” with one of their on-line customer service representatives. I have gone down that road in regards to the aforementioned vacation search. I found their response time lacking and their deficiencies in terms of real information staggering. It was as if they were simply reading / typing the same information off their websites that I had already seen for myself and not really answering my questions. They were obviously dealing with more than one customer at a time as their responses were not at all swift.
Purchasing certain items online is certainly convenient. For example buying diapers in bulk online when there is a sale and getting free home delivery is definitely a service I appreciate. However, when it comes to a big ticket item I feel much more comfortable dealing with a human being rather than a computer. I prefer to communicate with someone that has an invested interest in the completion of my sale. I don’t want to feel like just a number. Therein lays the difference. The same can be said of a gift or award that is to be personalized / customized and presented to an individual. I want someone on the other end of my communication that cares just as much as I do about the project.
From time-to-time I do stop and consider the concept of quality customer service, what it is to give it and how it feels to receive it and I must say that it almost feels like it is a dying art. If you ask someone older than me they most certainly will agree. In a world filled with technology and online options I fear for my children’s generation and what they will experience in terms of quality customer service and whether or not there is any real quality left in it.