Do you think your automated phone system or website is smart enough to accurately identify your customers?
You may be able to identify the person (name, customer id, etc.) but you’ll have a much harder time guessing what they need.
Take, for example, my recent call with Dell. I called up tech support for help. Dell’s automated phone system some how automatically determined I wanted to talk about my Axim handheld.
Sure, I had bought an Axim from them before. However, my most recent purchase was a desktop computer.
How did I end up in the PDA support queue when I really had a problem with my desktop computer?
I found myself trapped without any option besides hanging up the phone.
Just because a person has previously purchased a product doesn’t mean that is what they want to talk to you about.
In customizing and personalizing our user’s experience we must be careful that we don’t go overboard.
Guessing the user’s next step is important but we need to be confident our decision will correctly match the customer the majority of the time.
Depending on your circumstance you may be able to be more or less strict on your accuracy. This is determined by the consequences of being wrong.
Always give your customer an escape route. If you’re making choices for them, make sure they can override you, take a step back, or even start over.
Lesson #1: Don’t guess wrong.
Lesson #2: If you guess wrong, make the recovery easy. Don’t trap the customer where they don’t want to be.