Want help from Amazon with a purchase or a product? Here’s the customer service number: 1-888-280-4331. May it do you some good. Knowing the number did little for me when I called at the behest of two of my book readers. Both had written reviews for my latest novels, Ballet Noir and Heart Land. Neither review had gotten posted on the Amazon website. I dialed the number above and waited until an operator pulled me from the wait queue. She listened to my story then transferred me to another department. The second operator assured me I’d have an answer to my query within two days. I hung up, satisfied.
An email soon arrived as promised: the Q & A. from Amazon’s web page. I’d looked there before making my call, so I felt my time on the phone had been a waste. I’d been given the illusion of service without receiving any.
Am I venting? Sure. But I also have a point to make and it comes from Wall Street. Their computers have noticed a trend among clients. During times of peak emotions – high or low swings in the stock market — customers who normally transact business on electronic devices chose to pick up the phone. Whether the news is good or bad, they want to talk to their brokers. (“Knowing the Limits of Machines,” by Geoff Colvin, Fortune, July 2016, pg 16.)
People react much the same on other occasions, I suspect. A cancer diagnosis could be sent by email, but I’m guessing most people prefer to talk with their doctors. Ditto for an angry constituent. Reading a congresswoman’s blog won’t cut it. People want to vent to a staff member.
Knowing what can and can’t be automated will have impact on a company’s reputation. True, some jobs a computer can do better than a human. Some jobs can be done equally by a computer or a human. But when emotions run high, a computer, no matter how competent won’t do. Amazon take note.