The Difference Between Automation and Bad Automation

Are you frustrated with bad automation too?

I recently saw a commercial for Chase Sapphire Preferred that had a parody on the stereotypical bad IVR experience. In the commercial, a person attempts to ask the airport employee a question, but the employee speaks as if he is a poorly-designed, automated IVR. Instead of being helped right away, the caller is strung along through a series of questions until finally he is “hung up” on.  The commercial ends with the tag line, “You don’t like automated customer service, and neither do we.” I found the skit pretty ironic considering that the commercial was shot in an airport, where many services are becoming automated.

People do not necessarily dislike automation, they dislike bad automation.  They do not want to:

  • Repeat information that they have already provided
  • Listen to menu options that do not pertain to them
  • Wait several minutes to solve their problem only to be rerouted to a different  IVR
  • Get hung up on, like in the example of the commercial

With good automation, people do:

  • Know what to expect
  • Have their problem solved quickly, easily and effectively
  • Most importantly, have the choice to talk to a person

While I still have the choice to go to an airport employee at the airline counter to check in, there are also kiosks where I can check in for my flight, print my boarding pass and start checking my baggage. Many people choose to use these kiosks because it allows them to complete the process quickly without waiting in line for a person to complete the same process. Dealing with a person is almost never faster than dealing with automation, so as long as the automation is well-done, customers often choose automation.

Good automation knows who you are, satisfies your needs, is aware of your time, and ultimately should give you a better and faster-than-human experience.  IVRs that are designed with the caller in mind make for a much better customer experience. Even though I did find the commercial clever, I think the tagline should be changed to “You don’t like poor customer service, and neither do we.” There’s nothing wrong with automation, but there can be plenty wrong with bad automation.

Have you had a bad automated customer service experience? Better yet, do you have another example of good automated customer service? Tell us in the comments!


About the Author: Arianna Rouhani is a Business Development Manager (BDM) at Angel. As a BDM, Arianna works to discover new business opportunities in various industries. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Virginia Tech.

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