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Productivity but at what cost?

My team and I need to be as efficient as we can possibly be. Firstly, to deliver the best service we can. Secondly, to charge a fair fee for the work that we do and remain profitable. Like most businesses, technology is one of the tools we use in our efforts to achieve this.

I am suspicious  about any process or system that cuts out human interaction and personal communication. Our clients should not feel like they’re being assembled on a production line.


Today I was on the receiving end of an automated response. We are 100% cyber-security conscious (as you’d expect from a firm of qualified accountants handling high value, high risk data). We have multifactor authentication (MFA) switched on whenever we can. I had an issue with my MFA on an internal system and needed to do some urgent work. I found a phone number for the software provider’s support desk.  When I called it, there was a recording that said they had moved their entire support response online. I was immediately cut off with no opportunity to speak to a real person. Although the recorded message gave out a rushed URL link, there was no sign of it on their own website. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. I decided on the spot that we would not be renewing our contract later this year.

How to save a professional relationship

I rang the number back intending to ask how to give notice. Option 3 surprisingly got me through to a human being. They listened and said they would log the support ticket for me. I wondered whether I’d even hear from back from anyone. LESS THAN 5 MINUTES LATER I got an actual phone call. I know!!! They then fixed the MFA problem promptly.

Not one but two instances of excellent customer service.

As part of our conversation, I explained the issue I needed to resolve so urgently. Turns out the software’s functionality wouldn’t let me fix it. They’ve added this to their development change requests as something that should be possible for the admin user to do. Another great result.

Here’s how I think you serve your customers well (and save a professional relationship when you drop the ball):

  1. Treat them as individuals
  2. Be accessible
  3. Do what you say you will
  4. Listen
  5. Acknowledge when you need to change

Turns out the person who helped me today was the same person who worked on our implementation 4 years ago. I remembered that she had been planning her wedding at the time. We also squeezed in a chat about how that had gone. I felt genuinely happy after we’d spoken. Technological change is essential but it will never be at the expense of humanity when you are working with us.

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