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The Seinfeld Customer Experience Theorem

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Jerry Seinfeld is a stand-up comedian, not a customer service consultant. However, Seinfeld was recently quoted as saying something that directly relates to the customer service experience.

The Human Touch
“We’re craving the nondigital even more these days, the authentically human interaction,” Seinfeld was quotes as saying at Forbes.

That quote has been taken by service expert Micah Solomon, customer service expert, who dubbed the quote the “Seinfeld Customer Experience Theorem.” How exactly does an off-the-cuff remark by a professional comedian boil down to improving customer service? By showing that people need people, and when direct people contact occurs, the customer experience is often that much more satisfying.

According to Solomon, who cited recent research on the customer experience, “authentic human interactions” lead to a higher level of customer satisfaction overall. The JD Powers review cited by Solomon found that the highest satisfaction among hotel guests was reported by guests with four or more “authentic human interactions” with hotel staff after the check-in process. When guests had no interaction after that initial process, customer satisfaction ratings declined significantly.

The Other Side of the Coin
By the same token, customers don’t want to be disturbed too much by human interaction when they are trying to complete a transaction on their own. The advent of technology has also ushered in the age of self service, and most customers embrace that approach for at least some of the business they conduct daily.

According to an article at CRM Buyer, more than three-fourths of customers polled said they would be more likely to do business with a company that offered a self-service option. In addition, another study cited by the article showed that 70 percent of airline passengers now prefer to use the self-service kiosks offered by many of the airlines in airports today. There is no doubt self-service has its place in the customer service world as much as “authentic human interaction.”

Combining the Two
Despite the widespread use of self-service options seen today, most customers would not want self-serve to be the only option in all industries today. Some of those polled in the studies above admitted self-service kiosks did little or no good for the customers that needed a seat change or had another issue with their reservation. In addition, some complained that the kiosks were confusing to use and others worried about their break-down rate.

While self-service has found a niche in customer service, it is far from replacing the “authentic human interaction” Seinfeld was referring to. It does appear that companies need to find a careful balance between the hands-off approach and the human touch that provides faster, more efficient service without leaving a customer feeling neglected. In his article, Solomon recommends businesses that incorporate more self-service options find additional opportunities for staff to offer customers a warm, personalized experience.

Customer service has become infinitely more complex today, as companies struggle with the balance between autonomy and human interaction. Those that successfully integrate the two, at the right place and time, are most likely to receive the highest customer satisfaction ratings.

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