When technology changes, so too do our expectations. Five years ago, many of us likely wouldn't have even considered the possibility that we could deposit a check in the bank simply by taking a picture of it with a smartphone and sending said picture to our bank for processing. Yet now, the option is increasingly ubiquitous. Technology has fundamentally changed the way people regard that particular moment of operation, and its spread is as wide as that of technology itself. A new study from Business 2 Community shows that this development is clearly found in the field of customer support software and service.
On a certain point, the Business 2 Community study makes too much sense to not have the ring of validity to it. The basics of customer service are still alive and well, and augmented by the relevant technologies: it's easier and faster to gather and hold customer data, and making contact with customers via social media is an accepted, almost standard, part of business practice. But when things are standard, and accepted, it becomes simply part of the expected norm, and to deliver such things is no longer a clear and present sign of innovation.
What's more, the use of social media has proven to be a double-edged sword. The same tools that allow for easy contact with customers about new offerings, new discounts and similar fare can also be used to tell everyone in hearing distance about how badly the company let a customer down. Responding to such criticism can often make a company look weak by comparison—how many customers are rolling eyes at a company's protest about excessive customer demands in response to allegations of bad service?—but leaving a challenge unanswered can look just as weak. So what is a company to do to provide the best in customer service using the technology of the day?
First, make the brand accessible everywhere. Mobile devices, desktops, anywhere else; if the customer can use it to make contact, be ready with a presence in that location. This makes the impersonal personal, and can really drive home the position with the customer. Also, be ready to interact with a customer at any time. Various work schedules and just unusual lives mean customers may want to make contact outside of normal business hours. Be ready to deal with customers on a personal level; interactive voice response (IVR) systems and automated systems can handle a lot of basic issues, but be ready for the person with two problems in one or problems that defy classification.
This is a lot to keep in hand, and may make for difficulties for businesses. It's cost-prohibitive for many businesses to keep staff on hand 24-7 just in case someone has a problem, especially if few ever actually do. But as is so often the case, these are general instructions. Be prepared to face these issues, and by that preparation, be ready to reap huge windfalls. Not every business will need this kind of customer service punch, but for those who are prepared to tackle the issues head-on, the end result should be a big success.
Technology has changed most everything it touches. From making fire to helping customers, a new way to do something has far-reaching ramifications. Being prepared to handle these matters is a big step, and one that means big things for the company involved.
Edited by Alisen Downey