Thursday, May 8, 2014

Does Technology Enhance Our Customer Experience?

Does Technology Enhance Our Customer Experience?
Does technology enhance or hinder our shopping experience? Do we get better service as a result of customer service reps with phones when they are just a voice and a button-push away from asking someone else in the store the answer to your purchase-related question? Or is technology used in this way intended to have fewer workers helping more customers at the same time?

I've had to make multiple visits to my local warehouse hardware store over the past several days. Hubby and I are installing an automated irrigation system to water the vegetables I'll be growing in the 4-foot cedar planters I built last year. Though I thoroughly enjoy gardening, I'm not too keen on being a slave to the watering required, especially for the two planters that live under the soffits and all four hanging baskets.

But I have a very unique situation. Hubby and I live in a strata complex. We don't have a yard. We have a large patio off our family room that gets full hot sun all summer long. Too hot for us, great for growing vegetables.

The closest water hose spigot is connected to the house about a storey down from our elevated patio. We have to rig something that will go up the side of the house, along the soffit, and then down one of the supporting columns into the 8 cedar planters, as well further along the soffit into 4 hanging baskets. 

Enter a splitter, a timer, a filter, a backflow preventer, a water pressure regulator, 80 feet of 1/2-inch filthy dirty PVC piping, various couplers and reducers, watery purple primer that drips everywhere, and quick-drying fastening cement with an applicator so large it fits into nothing that is 1/2-inch. So now enter a large box of disposable Q-tips as makeshift applicators.

Did I mention that this cement is quick drying? Is this all seeming a tad too technical? Of course it is! That's why I needed the services of someone in the know at my local hardware store.

I did all the research I could online, I drew out a plan. In colour, no less. I thought about all aspects of the system. Including how to make sure I can unscrew what needs to be unscrewed and capped off after the season is over. I'm very well organized that way. I also drive hubby a little nuts during such projects because he doesn't think the way I do. Not even remotely.

But once I arrived at what I'll now call the hardstore, armed with my list and living colour drawn out plan, I still had to find all the equipment and pieces I needed.

Epic fail.

A full walkabout in the almost 100,000 square feet of warehouse space that has become our neighbourhood hardstore yielded only some of what I needed for my unique setup.

But is my setup all that unique? I mean, don't we all have something unique to deal with whenever we want to install or upgrade something in our homes? I know I'm not alone in this.

So now more than ever we need people who know what they're doing and what they're talking about to help us with our DIY projects. But do they deliver? Does the technology they all carry enhance our customer experience?

The guy who's been helping me at the hardstore is trying to deliver. He really is. And I like that he does have some expertise in the area of irrigation. But in the 10 minutes he spent with me yesterday, his phone rang 8 times and 4 other customers all waited patiently for access to his knowledge and expertise. I was about to spend in excess of $300 on this latest project alone, and probably way more over the course of time, yet I felt as though I was taking up too much of his time!

But I don't blame him. He was very apologetic. I blame the corporation that cares more about their balance sheet than balancing the needs of their customers with their ability to make a profit.

Technology is a wonderful thing. But when corporations supply their staff with technology to essentially clone them, it's at the expense not the enhancement of customer service.
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  1. I agree with you Darlene, there is nothing more aggravating than dealing with a customer service representative in store who then stops talking to answer his or her phone to answer a question from a customer not in store, Priority is given to the phone, why is that? When that happens we should all just drop what we have and go elsewhere.

    1. But don't we do the same thing in our own homes when we have visitors? Priority is almost always given to the phone. Ringers must have been designed to drive us crazy unless answered. Much along the same lines as a baby crying.


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