PeopleFluent takes Customer Support very seriously, constantly innovating on how we can best service our clients. We consider ourselves (*ahem*) experts in customer service and client support.
We understand that in this age of expense side business planning, service departments must learn how to provide greater service while managing resources. I’m constantly thinking where can I, as a Services Manager, effectively spend my resources to achieve the best possible outcome for the company and our clients?
We all want great customer service in exchange for our purchase dollar, and expect a personal touch from vendors – whether it’s buying a new car for ourselves or new software for our company. So I wanted to share some tips from our services group professionals for how to maintain a high level of customer contact in this fast-moving age, while retaining the traditional feel of individualized attention. This is one of the greatest challenges for service departments today.
Kate Leggett of Forrester Research argues that: Strong relationships help build loyalty, higher customer lifetime value, and advocacy –all positively affecting top-line revenue. Yet, some of the new technology being used in customer service today is pushing the customer relationship farther away, rather than strengthening it.
It’s rare to find one person who hasn’t had an annoying interaction with the automation prevalent in today’s Service departments. I can’t count the number of times I’ve screamed representative into the chatbot tool of a vendor. I’ve spent 30 minutes on a telecommunication company’s website searching for their contact phone number, and still couldn’t find it. These common frustrations led to a backlash in the consumer market, with some companies reverting to the live support and service model only. But can a service provider afford to turn their back on the new communication channels and technology available?
It CAN be Done Right
According to a report from DimensionData customers are adopting new communication channels to interact with companies, with digital interactions accounting for 35% of all interactions. Their needs are changing.
Many companies including PeopleFluent have successfully adopted a multi-channel approach to customer service – making support easily available through both traditional and technologically innovative ways. Another example is Amazon, well-known for providing quick, helpful service without requiring the customer speak directly to a person. Yet, for every company who has transitioned well to an omni-channel approach, there are hundreds who have failed. From poorly communicated support, to hours or days waiting for an online chat question to be answered, to mismanaged community boards, the failures mount. The investment these companies have made into the technology and staff changes in the end hurt their overall customer satisfaction (C-SAT) scores.
[Source: DimensionData 2015 Benchmark report]
Follow Our Lead
PeopleFluent continues to adopt the best tools, and leverage new social technology, to support our customer base. Yet why are so many other companies unable to do the same effectively? Here in lies the issue. In the last ten years companies have rushed to deploy new technology under the banner of self-service, but few have considered how the technology can provide the complete experience their customers are looking for. I believe the key to Service departments moving forward in this new media frontier is to put the majority of their effort into understanding what technological features best meet their customers’ needs, and how these pieces can meld together into a clean process, before they worry about deploying these tools.
Research your company’s marketplace, and develop a needs assessment of your customer base, to unlock the significant benefits new service technologies can provide them.
There is the second wave of technology coming into bloom. New analytic tools, with better functionality, that will allow services groups to build better self-service tools for current and emerging issues. For example, improved programs can recognize and decipher key words in text messages, chat lines, and emails and either deliver the answer, or redirect the question to the appropriate resource, helping streamline a Service group’s response. For customers who want to do everything on-line, these types of advancements will help meet their needs faster. And the continued improvement in video chat allows Account Managers to have more frequent meetings with customers. Also, improvements in deploying software patches and updates mean our clients have the most recent software updates in real time.
New technologies will continue to augment existing tools for a better overall customer experience. Service departments will be able to increase their first contact solution rates, and provide greater one-on-one contact with customers through remote sessions. And in this fast-paced world, receiving appropriate solutions and services more quickly will continue to drive many customers to adopt new customer service technology…and may in time be their preferred method.
Remember: Research your customer base, keep up with their needs, constantly innovate - and your service department will earn your customers’ loyalty (and being an Industry Leader like PeopleFluent doesn’t hurt either!).