“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.”–Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Every aspect of a company’s ‘life’ would need to revolve around making the experience for their customers memorable and one that constitutes great customer service. Using technology for better customer service therefore does not come as a surprise. With new technology becoming more and more apparent and constantly emerging unrelentingly, the consumers are also keeping themselves busy with learning about them. Customers of companies and the companies too, are increasingly using social media sites to advertise and promote their brands and offerings, like never before. These sites allow for comparisons, recommendations, reviews, feedback and discussions on various products and services, providing ready information to the current and prospective users. Customers are becoming tech-savvy and it is challenging and providing a thrill to companies as they see this trend rising. However, for a company to be truly successful they must not only match the steps of their customers, they must stay a few steps ahead.
A company being able to provide their customers with what the customers want is what the realm of customer service is all about. If customers see technology for better customer service, then that is the path that companies need to take. It is a paradigm shift for a number of companies and for others it is fairly easier. It has been established that Customer Service must not be overlooked as this area has gone beyond just answering queries. This realm is crucial for any company if they want customer satisfaction, loyalty leading to increased revenues and a profitable stable growth. Excellence in customer service is the proverbial golden goose that will lead a company on to better prospects and a larger customer base. Customer service can no longer be considered just a nice to have or because others have it, kind of function. A technologically advanced customer service team, with multi-skilled staff and a strong leadership that supports this endeavour, would make a company forge ahead of its competition and provide pro-active customer support to its customers.
For companies that have foreseen the value of technology for better customer service and have invested time and resources in upping the technology quotient have found themselves more at ease with the tech and business savvy customers. Of course, there is always the concern that even a minor lapse can be broadcast immediately and to a wider audience in a matter of seconds. However, recovering from these lapses in an efficient and effective manner has also become easier. In fact, when companies go out of their way to correct a service lapse, this recovery leads to higher customer satisfaction and also prospective clients can see value in being attached to such a company. Make technology work for you, master it and keep it in control and you will find the benefits will far outweigh any potential issues.
Keeping costs down:
– Customer service is extremely crucial especially for the smaller to mid-sized businesses. With limited market share and an even smaller operating budget, it is vital that these companies enhance customer loyalty for their brand by providing excellent customer service. Customers have more options in the market than ever before and therefore focus on using technology to build a better brand image and servicing the customers with empathy will help anticipate their needs and enable customized solutions to these needs. All these factors will improve efficiency and keep customers loyal, thereby keeping costs down and increasing profit margin.
Technology that pushes customer service forward:
There is more than one major area where technology is helping and proving indispensable for companies to garner customer support and improving loyalty.
– Company websites are especially helpful in providing customers with a platform to post queries and receive answers from the company’s representatives and or from other users and customers. Troubleshooting self-help guides on the company sites help customers sort out minor technical problems on their own. This saves them time and the hassle of calling or writing in.
– Email is a fast and efficient means to respond to customers, enabling enhanced customer service levels.
– Enabling the unification of all communication channels allows a customer to connect with a company on any channel that is convenient, and the company would be able to view it immediately and also respond via the same channel.
– Investing in current software that helps manage customer relationships through collation of feedback, producing graphs, providing scores and percentages – all means to understanding customer behavior and mood towards the brand and company. Any discrepancies can be managed immediately.
Putting to practice some uses of technology can raise the level of customer service and enable a company to become more customer-focused. In addition to technology channels, there are also technological tools that companies can use to get better at serving their customers and also staying ahead of them in anticipating their needs.
– The tool to manage and analyze data enables quick and efficient collection of data from customers and a thorough analysis of this data provides valuable information about customer needs, preferences and behaviour.
– Insights in to customer preferences provides data that helps companies to design better marketing plans, re-visit branding and promotion campaigns and target key audience. A more focused marketing drive saves time, energy and lowers cost in the long run.
– Investing in technology that allows streamlining and automation of business operating processes reduces errors and improves efficiency thereby equipping companies to provide better service to customers
– Providing training that enables the customer service staff to keep abreast with the new technologies and be able to use them to serve customers better, makes for good customer service.
Working together with technology is what will help companies stay ahead. Technology alone cannot work unless the ‘right’ people are at the helm and technology is being used right.
– Use social media to advantage by putting your very best and most efficient customer service staff to manage customer responses. The responses to customers must be crisp, pointed and quick and only the staff that is up to date with managing the large platform of social media. As customers perceive that professionals are manning these sites, they are less likely to post or quip randomly and will allow for responses. Customers need to feel like they are the only one rather than one among the many (despite knowing that to be the case). They want to feel they are in contact with ‘someone’ rather than some brand that has no face.
– All channels of communication must have space reserved for a place that customers can help themselves. Either through a discussion board, a community sharing area, FAQs that can be answered by the company representative or by other users of same or similar products, self-help troubleshooting guides that are easy to understand and negotiate – are all ways to telling the customer that as a company you are keen to help them and make things easier for them. Customers can perceive that your company will be there for them when they need and your efforts in using technology for better customer service will bear fruit.
– Cover all channels of communication. If your customer is connecting with you via one medium ensure that your response is quick and efficient via the same medium. It makes it easier for the customer to communicate with you. Also if a company takes a pro-active approach, they can observe on which channels their customer is most active and use that channel to reach out to the customer even before the customer does. This makes the customer feel special and perceive that you care.
There was a time when technology seemed like a multi-headed monster and was overwhelming. However, times have changed and people have smartened up to befriending technology and harnessing it for maximum efficiency. Using technology to better customer service and all business processes creates opportunities for all businesses, irrespective of size, to move ahead and maximize their advantage.