There’s a tendency to think of customer service as a people-centric service – and rightly so. Our customers are people, and customers like human interaction. Customers even often prefer in-person or over-the phone conversations with a real person to resolve customer service issues1. That does not mean, though, that technology can’t facilitate those interactions or that you can’t proactively use technology to prevent some customer frustrations from escalating to the point that they need to call customer service in the first place.
What can technology do for your company?
- Help Customers Help Themselves
Consider introducing an app that allows customers instant access to information. This could lead to an increase in customer satisfaction and a decrease in the need for a live customer service representative to answer readily available information.
What makes apps work?
- Accessible – Customers can access multiple platforms 24/7
- Useful – They provide useful services to the customers
- Personalized – They can be personalized to ALL the customers, individually
Another example of a smaller company that created and leveraged an app to meet customer needs is Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri. Boulevard knows the locals love its products. In addition to the regular lineup, Boulevard releases several special edition brews throughout the year. Boulevard’s customers found it difficult to track down stores and restaurants selling the various libations available at any given time – especially the more limited releases – so Boulevard created its Beer Finder app. Through the app, individual users track their product preferences, receive alerts about the new releases, lets customer socialize about their favorites (providing publicity for the company and their various goods and services) and lowers call volume with respect to product availability in the process.
- Show Customers How It Works
Many companies already use telephone and live chat to engage with their customers and resolve customer service issues. Technology makes it possible to extend those services by including video which allows customers to see the person they’re talking to and/or watch a demonstration that answers the customer’s question or issue. For a modest investment, video provides many of the same benefits as in-person interactions in a virtual environment3.
How to use video with customers?
- Provide live, face-to-face chat4
- Offer video demos with step-by-step instructions
- Record thank you messages for customers6
Warby Parker, an eyewear company created a series of short videos that answers its most frequently answered questions and happily sends links to those videos to customers who ask related questions to them via various social media channels.5 The company’s CEO, Warby Parker, summed up their position best when he said “Over half of our traffic sales is being driven by our customers telling other people that we exist and that has led to how we invest in marketing and viewing customer service not as a cost center that should be minimized our outsourced, but actually as a brand elevator and marketing channel that helps us grow.”7
- Support Customer Service Representatives with Just-In-Time Information
Turn your customer service team into sales and service powerhouses by equipping them with tablets and smartphones. Imagine if, while talking to a customer in your store location, the customer service representative could immediately access that customer’s order history and preferences on one of these devices? If they could match paint color, select a piece of furniture to go with an existing set or make sure that a preferred table or seat was secured for a reservation?
JetBlue® equips each inflight crew member with iPad minis™ that provide access to its robust customer database. British Airways® collected all of the data from more than 200 disparate databases into a single unified data source and then equipped its cabin customer service and senior cabin crew with access to the system, which updates real-time8. In both cases the goal is to put the most complete, up-to-date picture of all customers possible in the hands of the people taking care of them.
The only real barrier standing between your small or mid-sized business and letting technology take your customer service team to the next level is your knowledge and willingness to embrace what today’s technology has to offer.