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The Gulf News article on customer service could not have been more relevant in a world where technology is getting more pervasive (“Customer happiness needs more than ‘service with a smile’”, Gulf News, October 11). The service sectors, including banking and telecommunications, have replaced front office services, where human interactions defined service quality, with call centres or automated voice-over systems.

Often, these transformations have helped offering quicker solutions to customers, yet it still lacked the ability to address specific questions in a prompt manner. It wastes time.

Moreover, the time a customer spends waiting is much more. Depending on the complexity of the services offered by a business entity, making a call to an automated voice-over system can leave a customer more frustrated, because of the numerous selections he or she has to make on the phone.

I have wasted time before even getting down to the question. Finally, when an agent picks up your call to attend to your queries, the overly courteous greetings and introductions often don’t sound pleasing as they were meant to be, because now, the customer is tired and just wants to get to the point.

As a customer, you just want to get answers in a straightforward fashion. Rather than being too polite and elaborately courteous, agents should get straight to the point. If agents beat around the bush, it amounts to poor service being rendered.

On the other hand, large supermarkets or hypermarket retailers have adopted a balanced approach where customers are left on their own to choose their products, while laying out items in the most efficient way possible, through classifications and categorisations.

Embracing technology to achieve efficiency in businesses, including cost saving and better customer service is one thing, but introducing technology for the sake of it or just as an ornamentation is quite another. I would personally prefer to have a quality product or service offered by a plain speaking salesperson as opposed to a sweet and polite customer service agent who apologises for not being helpful. There is a fine line between the two and businesses and companies need to decide what approach they are going for.

The reader is a resident of Dubai.