Future of Customer Service

The Future of Customer Service: Future Shop?

Is the future of our engagement between customer and business evolving right under our noses? What does this future look like? I don’t see flying cars. I don’t see teleporters. I don’t see ray guns. I also don’t see any customer service staff to help me…AHA, that’s the future!

Recently, I was in the market for a new home printer. The one I had had died and though I don’t print often, I didn’t feel like going through the hoops necessary to get other people to help me. New printer it is. Future Shop was on my radar as I, and my girlfriend, had recently bought a computer there. Here’s my story of the future…today:

I entered the store’s computer department, looking up and down the centre aisle (this is where they put their sales items). The first one looked too similar to the one I had just die on me, the second focused more on work printing than home printing (even though I have no idea what that means) but thankfully the third one had all the features and brand name I liked. Yes, I was Goldilocks and the three printers.

I wasn’t ready to buy though. I’m not a “printer guy”. I have no idea if this feature or that feature is what I’m looking for. I looked up and around and no staff was available to talk to. OK, Google it is. I checked out the 1st and 3rd of the aisle printers online to see if their particular make and model had any hiccups or positive reviews I should be aware of.

I wasn’t done though. Come on. I’ve looked at the first three products they plopped in front of me. I wandered to the printer section. Still no staff around. I pushed around a few boxes to check some features. Pushed some buttons. Pulled some levers. And back to Google – reviews, stars, pluses, minuses, etc. I was quickly coming to realize two things:

1)   That third printer was probably going to be the one I hefted under my arm and to the checkout counter.

2)   I wasn’t going to get any actual service. This was a reactionary store, waiting for me to approach (interrupt?) their staff to get answers or help.

So I picked up that big ol’ box and carried it to the front counter. The cashier asked me if I “found everything alright?” Yes, I found the printer I wanted and I found some fantastic insights and suggestions online that directed my purchase. However, what didn’t I find were any staff to engage with, ask questions of, or get advice from.

So is the future of customer service, do-it-yourself?

Parting shot: when I left, the cashier asked if I wanted my receipt emailed to me. Obviously, this is Future Shop’s new attempt at getting my email address for some mailing list. Oh, so that’s when and how you want to engage with me. The best time for any company to be engaging with their customers is when they have their undivided attention. The best place for that is usually when they are in your store.

Could I have done something differently? How can a business keep this from happening? I welcome your thoughts below.

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