Blog - Customer Care

Balancing Tech and Touch



In a world awash with technology, humanity can get lost in the work. With contact center services, it’s essential to blend high-tech support with high-touch care to personalize customer experiences.

That’s a lesson I learned long ago, leading Ford Motor Company’s global helpdesk, a call center by any other name. Housed in the Ford Credit building basement, it was all beige-on-beige, with no windows.

Many of the helpdesk staff were degreed computer scientists, who were smart on the technology, but none too skilled in customer service.

More Humanized Help

That’s where I came in, with an education in economics, sociology and psychology in the workplace. Thinking was that more humanized help would balance out the harder, high-tech edge. And it did.

Helpdesk work then entailed the usual: Restarting network printers anywhere in the world, unraveling email communications and walking callers through questions about MS Office, Word Perfect or Lotus Notes.

And the unusual: A panicked admin who sent a bank envelope with money in interoffice mail and needed to retrieve it. I suggested the mailroom.

She interrupted: “You are supposed to be the helpdesk, aren’t you?” Perhaps my answer was too human.

Whatever the call, we took care to solve the problem at Ford. Fast forward two decades later, where I now run innovations and technical support at Working Solutions. And guess what?

All in Proper Balance

The technology is certainly more advanced. What transforms it into great customer experiences—thoughtful, caring solutions—remains the same. High tech and high touch. All in proper balance.

Take Beth, a travel agent whose work has required proficiency in a host of reservation systems, including the Sabre suite, Worldspan and Apollo. More important, she knows how to blend tech and touch.

Right before her shift ended one evening, Beth received a frantic customer call. Because of a flight delay, the traveler would miss his connection.

So Beth booked a new flight through the same carrier, but it had to go through a code-sharing foreign airline. With different systems, she knew changing reservations isn’t always smooth.

While her shift had already ended, she was determined to do whatever it took to get him checked in.

Beth called the connecting airline to confirm the flight change. None found—even with a ticket number. Each airline blamed the other.

Finally, she conferenced in the customer and the airline and was able to iron everything out.

Moral of the Story

It took technical expertise to navigate far-flung reservation systems and customer care to manage expectations. Both were needed to deliver results.

Done well, high tech and high touch become one—new-world efficiency and personalized service.

Think of them as the yin and yang in contact center solutions. Always integrated. Never-ending. All in proper balance.