Ways to Future-Proof Customer Service

“Fulfil the searcher’s task, not just their query. Resolve their mission.” – Rand Fishkin 

 

Competition has increased, and continues to become more frenetic and hectic in every sphere of the business environment. The pace of this change is in an accelerated mode and does not show any signs of abating. The number of channels through which businesses need to conduct business now, has increased significantly, and this alone poses a serious challenge with respect to integrating and providing seamless business. The fact is that online business and the use of varied channels are here to stay and customers are increasingly interacting with businesses through these online channels, especially through social media. Not only are they engaging with companies and brands, a lot of buying and ‘sharing’ is happening via the online medium too. This automatically translates to a higher expectation from customers for service through these media. If companies wish to capitalize this trend and stay ahead, they must find ways to future-proof customer service – which means seek new and innovative methods to stand out from the crowd.

 

Diametrically opposite to the past, is the fact that at least 50% of buyers now have smartphones – a figure that obviously is on the rise. Even if prospective buyers, do not actually make a purchase via their phone, they do conduct in-depth searches, compare reviews and prices, and assess the company against the experience they have while doing all these activities. Prospective buyers must be able to perceive efficient and reliable service through these activities, if the company expects them to proceed with a purchase. It is important to future-proof customer service such that every customer experience is a positive one and forms the basis of long-term customer relationships. True, it is a major challenge for customers to integrate all the channels with their overall service and business strategies, especially since they must do so without making it complex or costly or both for themselves and their customers.

 

To future-proof customer service for a company means that it should be able to adapt, keep pace with the changing needs of customers, and stay agile while seamlessly integrating their expectations and the changing technology. We have discussed before, that technology now is an inextricable part of the relationships with customers, and will continue to form part of the foundation of future connections with them too. A company that understands its customers and is able to match the pace of these changes, would be better equipped to future-proof customer service and continue finding favour with customers. What will matter in the end is the manner in which a company can manage the consequences of technology and use it to deliver consistently service excellence. Is your company in a position to say that it has locked in the future of customer service? Is it equipped to manage technology and its consequences, or does your company still struggle to find that balance?

 

As mentioned, the mobile has become an undeniable and extremely critical part of people’s lives. The power these mobile devices affords customers is unprecedented – they can gain information and do a host of activities through the click of a few buttons and from the palm of their hand. In order to future-proof customer service, customers must be able to see a company’s commitment of keeping pace with this new way of life, by offering them content, services, and navigation ease like never before. Companies that are successful today, have remained unflinching and uncompromising with respect to providing awesome experiences to customers over their mobile phones. These companies are ubiquitous – staying in the forefront of the consumer’s mind by giving the customers, what they want and when they want it.

 

Companies that understand their customers so well as to be able to predict their future behaviour, are the ones that are more likely to future-proof customer service. Sometimes even customers do not know how they would behave in a certain context, and why they would buy or not buy certain products. The idea is to create products, service, and solutions for customers even before they ask for it, thus eliminating a huge amount of stress and effort on their part. Since the company would have a thorough understanding of their customer groups, they would be more likely to ‘massage the egos’ of all customer types, and save itself from any temperament and ego clashes in the future. Being able to future-proof customer service, is all about collecting, collating, analysing, and using customer data as a ‘product’. By creating sets and sub-sets of their customer base, a company would understand their customers better than ever, and would create situations where the customer always is in the right and feels valued and important.

 

Being able to future-proof customer service is about blurring and may be even wiping out the boundaries that exist between the physical and virtual worlds. This means that customers would receive delightful and memorable service irrespective of where they are and through which medium they interact. Every person in such companies would be equally responsible for making life easier for their customers – from the smallest issue to a problem of a very large magnitude. Customer know that they would receive the best service and prompt attention because the company has a culture that focuses on their needs and expectations – such customers tend to last longer with a company and remain profitable for as long as associate with the company. Companies to start with, must remain completely open and honest with their employees, care for them, and give them an environment that would breed cooperation, collaboration, and a desire to care for customers. The CEOs of such companies lead from the front, and actively participate in the drive to future-proof customer service. It is a commitment and goal that each person in the company shares and is guided by, ensuring that the service customers receive anytime and anywhere is consistently top class.

 

The fact is that the balance of power has shifted in favour of customers and irrespective of what the company’s goals or ambitions are, it is the customers, who will judge the quality of service. If a company is only providing lip service and not really keeping pace with their needs, customers are sure to perceive it soon enough, and leave the company for a competitor. To future-proof customer service, a company must combine its ‘story’ with that of its customers, such that the result is the fulfilment of goals and the making of huge successes for both businesses. In this age of hyper-connectivity, a company is only as good as its service, irrespective of how good its products or services may be. It may be easy for companies to view customer service as something nice to do, but to stay competitive it is now the quintessential trait for any company. Unless a company can future-proof customer service, it will be unable to provide a seamless experience for its customers, which as any business owner would tell you, would be a self-defeating move. Planning on how best to improve and develop your company’s customer service, is critical to a business – just as any other aspect of business would be. Fast growing companies must know how to future-proof customer service if they are to sustain their growth and enhance their profitability.

 

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