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Senior Correspondent

I'm on my third iPhone, and I admit to enjoying a conversation with Siri now and then. She is always so upbeat and pleasant, even when she has to tell me no. Or even when she tells me she has absolutely no idea what I am talking about. 

She never makes me feel wrong or dumb. She always makes me feel like I am her number-one priority. She proactively searches for ways to be of service. Siri never brings a bad attitude to the job. Even when I get upset, she keeps her cool and helps me find an answer. 

Siri has a great approach to customer service, and if there is one thing I appreciate, it's someone who excels at customer service. There's only one problem here. Siri is a robot — or is she an iBot? Whichever, whatever or whoever she is, she rocks!

On a less virtual level, there are stores or shops I love to visit whether I need anything or not. I just like the way I am treated and the way I am made to feel when I go there.

There are other places that I procrastinate visiting no matter how great my need. It's just such an ordeal. I make up a slew of excuses. But the truth is that I just don't like the way I am treated — like a number or an interruption or worse.

What's up with me? Why am I so sensitive about all of this? And then it dawned on me: I am a human. All customers are human.  And customers have human needs, whether in a brick-and-mortar store or a virtual setting — whether as a health care patient, making a banking transaction or simply as a citizen.  

So much of the human touch has been extracted from the equation. You fill up your own gas tank, swipe your own card and off you go. I find myself saying things to the gas pump like, "Thanks for taking my money. Have a great day." Or you go to the grocery store, check yourself out and this automated voice tells you, "Thank you for shopping at XXXXX." "You're welcome," I say back to the computer as I bag my groceries and head out to the next electronic kiosk. 

So just what is it that we high maintenance customers crave in the way of personal touch?

As humans, we customers need:

  • To feel welcome.
  • Timely, reliable and orderly service.
  • To feel comfortable.
  • To be understood.
  • To receive help or assistance.
  • To feel important and appreciated.
  • To be recognized or remembered.
  • Respect.

These simple yet often overlooked guidelines are just as important for our internal customers as they are for our external customers. I wonder where the next generation of Siri will show up. Perhaps we will have the option of electing Siri to Congress?  Now, that's an idea!

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