I’m old enough to remember the days when smiling supermarket staff packed my bags at the checkout – and would have been horrified at any attempt by me to pack my own.
The bag packers were considered to be all part of the service. Just like the bank tellers who wrote my transactions into my bank book, before the arrival of ATMs.
I remember both changes well.
At first, I was a bit grumpy about having to pack my own bags, but the more often I did it, the more satisfaction it gave me. I was able to pack the bags in the order I wanted to unpack. I could segregate the items destined for each part of the house. These days, I decline any offers to help pack my bags.
When ATMs arrived, the bank workers union warned the public it was the thin end of the wedge – the first step in the erosion of customer service.
That seems crazy now. Imagine the uproar if the banks announced they were doing away with ATMs. Available 24/7, the ATMs are now deemed to be all part of the service.
Self-service can often be the best service, as both these examples illustrate.
So how can the concept of self-service be incorporated into media sales?
Many media companies have tried, and are still trying, to provide clients with self-service options, ranging from online bookings to the archiving of audio and print materials.
Facebook and Google are prime examples of do-it-yourself advertising options where clients are expected to do the work themselves, and ‘service’ is little more than automated responses to emailed requests for help.
But it doesn’t matter, not to a generation of media buyers who have known nothing else but an online world where they expect to click their mouse wherever and whenever they choose.
Our desire as customers to remain in control, in a world that often seems to be heading out of control, grows greater, and we now consider self-service to be premium-rated.
PHOTO – Michael Kappel