Customer Relationships – Can the Online World Eliminate the Real World?

In a recent article posted on CRM Daily, the discussion of online ease of use versus “in person” assistance comes into play.

The discussion surrounding the way that the internet had become such a huge part of our everyday lives leads us to ask – at what point can ease of use override the need for a real person to assist us?  This particular article revolved around online banking and it’s growth, posing the question as to if the local bank branches that so many of us use may eventually close.

Speaking from personal experience, I utilize the web and many online services more than most people that I know.  I buy clothes, medicine, photos, pet supplies, vitamins, movies, books, cosmetics and numerous other products online.  I also do most of my banking, bill paying, and other financial services online.  This allows me to spend more time with my family and doing the things I enjoy.

BUT, the minute I run into a problem, there is no way that I’m satisfied with resolving the issue online.  I need to talk to a real person, either on the phone or in person.  The relevance of that article in CRM Daily was especially true for me this week.  I ran into some issues trying to consolidate my access codes for my personal and business accounts online.  I went into the local branch of my bank and spent 40 minutes with the branch manager.  He not only consolidated all of my accounts into one login code, he saw that my account activity would benefit by being in a different account grouping, set me up for automatic bill pay for my business credit card, and then proceeded to inform me that I had a sizeable cash payout coming to me from that credit card if I cashed in the reward points.  I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I would not have figured out any of that out on my own online.

Bottom line, customer satisfaction is driven by the convenience factor.  Customer loyalty is driven by the relationship factor.  Relationships are nurtured by that human touch.  While it is possible to develop a personal tone online, the face to face interaction will always be needed at some point.  The trick is to find the balance and provide customers the portal they personally desire.

Besides, what online banking portal is going to offer you a lollipop?

2 Replies to “Customer Relationships – Can the Online World Eliminate the Real World?”

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