Wednesday 31 May 2023
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Your customer is human, not a barcode

Not long ago, a place with which I do business took an action against me, and I filed a complaint.

“How could this have happened?” I asked.

CM8w2zQUkAAWmn4“Sorry, but this was an automated action the system took,” they responded.

“That’s not good enough, and I am disappointed that you would even say that to me,” I responded.

“Yeah, we know,” they replied. “We’ll fix it.”

And they did. Quickly.

I knew I had a good argument, and I knew that when I brought the matter to their attention, they would address it. I had a very strong case.

But something in me wanted to test them.

You see, I knew what had happened was the result of automation. Time sequenced action run amok.

What I wanted them to say was (out of the gate): “Yeah, we know. We’ll fix it.”

I was really hoping they wouldn’t pull the “automated action” crap. That the lousy thing that happened to you was out of our control.


Look, I get it: Automation, technology, barcodes and such are here to stay. And there is, in fact, a meaningful time and place for them.

But not when dealing directly ON BEHALF OF your customer.

To use technology to SERVE your customer BETTER, FASTER, or MORE EFFICIENTLY is one thing.

But never, never, never are these things meant to replace your personal interaction and communication with them.

Sadly, we’ve (the customer) come to expect this, and frankly, we’ve come to accept this.

We shouldn’t.

And as a vendor, you shouldn’t allow you and your team to take the short cut.

Always better to work a little harder and spend a little more money there, than to fall victim to the “Press ZERO to speak to a customer service rep…” mentality.


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Co-founder of the intrepidNOW Media Network, Todd Schnick is a media + business strategist and talk show host + producer. He is a former marketing strategist, national political operative, and lobbyist. Todd has published five books, writes a business + lifestyle column, is a distance runner, and lives in Chicago with his wife Stephanie + family.

2 thoughts on “Your customer is human, not a barcode

  1. Cathy Patalas

    As you rightly point out, these days when everything is automated, most customers accept this type of contact. Accepting it is one thing, but accepting it as the only type of communication is another. At the expense of efficiency, we completely lose
    the direct human-to-human connection. We shouldn’t allow that, neither
    as a client nor as a vendor. And as vendors, we should make sure we communicate with our clients using human language. Providing value by a direct communication with the customer is often underestimated.
    Great post — many thanks for this one.

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