The Smart Phone: A Blessing or a Curse for Customer Service?


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Brands have capitalized the smart phone and can provide customers with more personalized and real time service.  Customers receive alerts on their phones about an upcoming promotion, an actual coupon or that a store just got in that must have new item.  So what’s the downside?  Has the mobile device contributed to the ruination of customer service?  It seems that too many front line associates are more concerned with their own social media world than listening and communicating with a customer.

When was the last time you walked into a restaurant, bank, or store and didn’t see a person on their phone who should have been paying attention to you? Even at check out counters, a clerk, while busy scanning your items, is even busier on their phone making plans for the evening.

Customers are actually guilty too; paying for items or following a hostess in a restaurant chatting away with their friends, kids, or making a dental appointment.  The phone is mobile, that is the point.  However, I cannot imagine my father who had a retail clothing store when I was growing up, on the phone while he was selling one of his customers a new sweater.

The problem is evident and obvious.  When a frontline associate is looking at or talking on a mobile device, it is impossible to provide full attention to anything else, including a customer.  How can anyone answer a question or ask how they can help if they are doing something else?  It is a scientific fact that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time.  Therefore, multitasking is actually impossible.  When a customer is not being given complete attention from an employee it is an automatic signal of disrespect.

So, how do we solve this problem?  Everything comes from the top so the resolution starts with management.  They, too, cannot be on their phones.  Additionally, policy protocols must be put into effect.  Maybe there needs to be more timeouts/coffee breaks so everyone can text, search the internet, or post the latest photo.  There must be a paradigm shift; first priority has to be customer service.  We all understand that frontline associates need to communicate with the outside world but there is a time and place for everything.  It’s not a punishment, but a good way to bring back neighborly customer service.

I’m searching for recommendations to share with business owners and executives.  What have you implemented that works?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Shapiro
Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 28 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies compiling the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business was released February, 2016.


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