Automatic booking – but it’s good to talk

Maybe the headline above should read – are we becoming less social?

Good to talk

It might seem a strange question to ask given the amount that is being shared on a daily basis across Facebook and Twitter, but sharing thoughts and experiences online is easy.

Let’s face it, with the advent of the emoji you don’t even have to use words anymore.  🙄

Are we so time-poor as a society that we feel the need to do everything at the speed of light? We choose email over post, text over telephone and even messenger apps over texting.

It’s one thing to advance technologically, it’s another to lose the art of communication.

There’s an app for that

We even book the services we use via automated sites or apps. At the expense of the precious screen space on our mobile devices, we’ll have an app (or maybe two) for booking a restaurant, one for booking hair appointments and maybe even one to transport our pet for us (yep, that exists).

We used to talk to people to sort those things out.

It might be faster to book a basic service online or through an app, but most small businesses want to build a relationship with their customer, and it’s easier to do that over the phone or face-to-face. They need to communicate with them in order to meet their needs. They want to do this because they want the customer to feel special and come back time and time again.

But do customers still want this ‘personal’ service?

Are our lives now so hectic that we no longer want to engage, we just want it now?

That’s a lot of questions.

For the most part, I think that the automatic booking system is extremely helpful for a lot of established businesses that see a high turnover of customers.

After all, if you have a service that is repeatable then it makes sense to make the booking element as seamless as possible. If you own an Italian restaurant and your website or Facebook page has your menu, your customers (new and old) can see what they’re getting and at what price.

So automating that process works well.

It also saves your front of house staff time as they aren’t taking telephone calls… unless you’re showing as fully booked online because a table of eight has cancelled but you haven’t been able to update the site and you’d actually like people to call to see if there are any cancellations…

But I think we’ve covered that elsewhere  😉

One size doesn’t fit all

What if you’re a hairdresser?

A regular customer may have the same thing done every six weeks, but what about a new customer? How do you know what type of style they want? Maybe they want a colour too? To find that out, you’ll need to talk to them.

The same goes for a plumber or even a person to walk your dog,

The plumber wants to know what the problem is, and you want to know how much it will cost. They’re trying to work out if they have the time to do your job among their other work, and you want to know when you need to be at home to let them in. Automate that process too much, and you could find yourself paying more because the job you thought was simple ended up over-running.

Not only will the plumber have to charge you more for the bigger job, he risks his reputation for not attending his next appointment in a timely manner.

Consider the dog walker.

They want to know about your dog, and you want them to treat your dog like you do. Does it bite, does it like other dogs, will it come back if I let it off the lead (leash for our American readers)? These are all very important details if the dog walker is responsible and managing risk to themselves and other people/animals under their care.

In the 90s, British Telecom ran a successful advert campaign about how ‘It’s good to talk’. More than 25 years on, and it’s never been more important to spend time talking to the businesses we use, and for them to talk to us.

With the advent of technology and the ever-increasing use of AI and chatbots, it would be a shame if we lost the simple art of talking.

Barry

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