How to use technology to improve customer service

It is not an overstatement to declare that customer service without any form of technology is unfit to serve the needs of both modern customers and businesses. Technology such as cloud computing, superfast broadband, social media and online websites can all be used to streamline procedures, reduce costs and add significant value for customers. It can be a key competitive differentiator, but how exactly should tech be used?

Self-reliant customers

The rise of digital means that employees no longer have to answer every query and problem firsthand over the phone or by mail. It is now possible to use a corporate website, social channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and other online resources to provide a wealth of knowledge and information to customers. Serving the new age of self-reliant customers is vital in an environment of rising expectations. An enterprise can do this by including a list of FAQs, complete contact information, store policies and opening hours on a web page. These resources also ensure that customers can be served 24/7.

Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation will drive further advances in customer service during the next decade. Virtual assistants and chatbots are already part of a new wave of “conversational UX” website design, which delivers a more personable interface for consumers. Gartner predicts that almost a third of interactions with technology will be made up of conversations with smart machines by next year. This trend also ties in with the move toward automation as enterprises use tech to streamline and optimize their customer services. The potential benefits are substantial for consumers and businesses alike.

Digital transformation

To leverage these exciting tools and software, an enterprise needs to have a digital infrastructure in place. Customer service technology can be broken down into four major areas: websites, email, communications and software. Each of these can work to some degree in a silo, but brands can really bring about a change in everything connected to the consumer by bringing them all together. For example, you will be able to serve a customer better if you know that they sent an email and left a comment on social media.

“The way consumers communicate has changed dramatically over the past several years,” Aspect Software Executive Chairman Bob Segert says. “It has been a massive transformation, with customers now thinking ‘digital-first’ and showing a preference for human-less engagement. As a result, it’s left companies with traditional models of interacting with customers solely through traditional contact center functionality struggling to keep up.”

Enterprises that attempt to enable digital-focused engagement via chatbots or messaging apps without updating their larger customer service ecosystem will struggle as customers will be forced to start from square one every time they move across channels. Customers don’t want the brand conversation to have an end point. Therefore, enterprises that wish to succeed must use tech to track every query, interaction and transaction so every agent and employee across the business can meet the needs of customers instantly.

Online payment and invoicing

Customer expectations at checkout are also growing. You need to provide a seamless web experience and offer a range of payment methods tailored to the needs of local markets according to demographics and customer types. Customer expectations at checkout are also growing. You need to provide a seamless web experience and offer a range of payment methods tailored to the needs of local markets according to demographics and customer types. For example, enterprises may prefer to use a receipt template during B2B transactions to invoice for goods, while general consumers may want to complete a purchase using an ewallet. Either way, personalized receipt templates can be used for both B2B and B2C. In addition to payment options, a website should also incorporate SSL certificates to secure connections and protect data.

Voice of the customer

Tech is also empowering enterprises to transform their Voice of the Customer (VOC) processes. VoC is a market research technique that outlines the needs, wants and desires of customers and prioritizes them in terms of relative importance. Tech including cloud software and digital tools are allowing brands to gather direct feedback through surveys and inferred feedback via a consumer’s purchase history and online clickstream data to glean meaningful insights that can inform critical decisions.

VoC data can be used to find out a consumer’s motivation for engaging with your customer service team. You can do this by aggregating the data at your disposal to provide a unified view of the customer. This will put you ahead of the curve in terms of understanding and anticipating their needs across various digital touchpoints.

Technology has the power to transform every aspect of customer service, from educating and informing them prior to making a purchase to engaging with them through content made using digital tools, easing them along the sale cycle via a responsive, feature-rich website, and ensuring the best after-sales service by answering any problem or query with a flexible and scalable online team.