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Innovation

For today's tech companies, phone calls are a thing of the past

Social technology companies like Twitter and Facebook now discourage customers from seeking help over the phone.
Written by Sarah Korones, Contributor on

For years now, my mother has complained that my older brother and I are nearly impossible to reach by phone. Text us, on the other hand, and she can expect to see a reply within seconds.

Now, as the New York Times reports, what has simply been a matter of preference for my brother, myself and many others in the Millenial generation, is quickly becoming a matter of policy for technology companies.

Such companies increasingly rely on e-mail, Twitter messages and Google searches rather than customer service phone lines. Finding the phone number for a site like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter can be a frustratingly time consuming process and even when customers do find these elusive digits, they’re often met with unwieldy phone trees that eventually hang up or send them right back to their computers.

For the seemingly antisocial social tech companies, phones are both expensive and impossible to scale to the millions of users seeking help on any given day.

The New York Times reports:

“A lot of these companies don’t have enough employees to talk to,” said Paul Saffo, a longtime technology forecaster in Silicon Valley. Facebook, for example, has just one employee for every 300,000 users. Its online systems process more than two million customer requests a day.

But for customers, especially those who are older and unsure of these new methods of communication, the lack of human customer service can be isolating.

Soon, it might be wise for companies to revert back to the phone call in order to edge out their icier competitors, Mari Smith, a consultant who trains businesses how to use social media says.

“The ability to call up and get a real human being — the companies who can do that and go back to basics are really the ones that will be winning out and humanizing their brand,” she said.

Image: Esparta Palma/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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