As many of us are aware – we live in a technological world.
Wifi at home and in public spaces with which we can access information from our laptops, tablets, and cellphones.
Email addresses that are accessible from any of these devices – and even via apps to make it easier to connect.
When we are not available we have auto-responders for email, and voicemail for our phones. Plus we can forward emails and calls to other addresses and numbers.
It’s a bit ridiculous if you think about how reachable we are. Some of us, anyway. Remember that even with all of this technology, some of us have more access and some have less. Some of us HAVE access and some of us don’t.
What? You may be thinking. I get it. For those of us with access, it’s likely challenging to remember (or imagine, depending on your age) that some people do not have access – or not the same level of access.
I’m guessing that the financial professional who is working with my mother is having this challenge.
So, I’m channeling my frustration into some food for thought on technology and access.
Profile of a customer
My mom is 81.
She has taught herself how to use the internet (yay mom!) and has an email address she frequently uses, but chooses not to have a computer. She goes to the library and uses the computer there.
She has a landline. Only.
She has an answering machine – not voicemail.
And she is a customer of a financial institution whose employees are expecting her to be available, reachable and message-able in the ways they are used to.
That’s not what customer service is about – and specifically not customer service to a diverse customer base.
So here are some insights about accessibility (based on my mother’s situation) in a world that assumes we all have the same technology (or access to it).
- Not everyone has a cellphone. That means they are not reachable 24/7.
- Not everyone has a computer at home.
- Not everyone has internet. Some by choice, some have the decision made for them because of cost or other factors. (I could write more about accessibility on the internet. For example, not everyone can access all websites, or all parts of websites.)
- While there are computers and wifi available at public libraries, not everyone can get themselves to the library, has a library in their neighbourhood, or is available to access the library during library hours. Of those who do and can – some may not have the literacy skills to use the internet.
And here is the kicker. Hold on to your seat:
- For folks with a landline who don’t have a voicemail, if the person is on the phone when you call, there will be a BUSY signal. The phone is not broken or out of service. Someone is using it, so you can’t get through. It means you’ll have to call back.
Maybe if we remember that not everyone has access to technology, we will be more flexible in our approach – which, in terms of customer service will help to provide service in ways that are helpful and respectful.