Service design is something more and more companies should be investing in, instead of what I call “customer service theater.” A recent example: I started a new job in May. One of the set of benefits is administered by Allstate.

To set up my life insurance account, I had to call them and do everything over the phone. Of course, “they value your call,” just not enough to have sufficient numbers of people to prevent you from being on hold for 10+ minutes. Then, every single time you call, you are forced to listen to a 20–30 second spiel about how their customer service goals today are blah, blah, blah. I am sure it’s as excruciating for these employees to have to play robot as it is for me to have to hear this every time. The first three calls, their computers were down so I could not complete registration, with the clock ticking for missing the deadline. Then I had to call again because the employee handling my account had forgotten to ask me for beneficiary info. I finally got to the point of just cutting off the spiel, as rude as that was.

Every time I need to update my address or contact info, or change beneficiary info, oh no, can’t do that online—have to call and hear the spiel.

Here’s what would be ACTUAL customer service: more folks to answer the phone, cut the spiel, let me handle my account online.

Ironically, most companies have the opposite issue when it comes to customer service over the phone. You call because you can’t solve the problem online, but have to hear repeated over and over to go to their website, while you are on hold. Believe me, we don’t want to call you if we could avoid doing so. Just stick to playing Muzak, rather than tell us how important our call is, and oh, did you know you can go to our website?

Designer. Craft artist. Point guard (ret). Collector of windup toys & push puppets. PhD, sociology. |

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