You’ve heard it time and time again—customer service is a very hands-on part of a business, and if you rely too much on technology, you’re driving away customers. This can certainly be true at times, but not all the time. In fact, the best customer service is invisible and readily used by companies that are ranked as the best service providers. How can such a tangible part of business be unseen by the naked eye?
First, you have to consider what customer service is. It’s not just one thing, but an experience that’s made up of several tools and approaches. What many people think of as “customer service” is how a company representative answers a phone. They don’t think about the technology this rep might be using or the potential touch phone system that got them connected to a live person in the first place.
What many people think of as customer service is actually “direct customer service.” The direct part is when you actually make contact—whether it’s at a cash register, over the phone, or when you get an email back from a company. However, it’s automation and technology that gets you to that point.
Jayson DeMers, founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, has merged direct customer service with technology and automation to overhaul his company’s customer service initiative. “We learned that customer service is time-consuming, but it’s absolutely crucial to not only making the sale, but keeping clients happy,” says DeMers. “Communication is the element that establishes trust, professionalism, and builds customer loyalty.” DeMers says Boomerang for Gmail has been the most effective technology implementation for improving and automating customer service.
With customer support automation, the knowledge base of known issues and resolutions is built into an expert system. Then, a complete suite of solutions that might include self-support, assisted support and proactive support become part of the mix. Automated support is what allows companies to offer round-the-clock service via alarm monitoring and early troubleshooting.
Many useful technologies, such online libraries or knowledge bases where customers can do self-help diagnostics, can help. Employees may use customer relationship management (CRM) software and systems, or network management systems (NMS) in order to best tackle issues and resolve complaints. Simultaneously, these tasks are being organized while other software programs ensure that any applicable regulations are being followed (HIPAA, etc.).
For proactive support automation, this encompasses solutions that reduce downtime and offer constant availability. Pre-emptive support automation is a solution that uses information that’s derived from another point (such as log files, etc.) and is then used to predict future problems. Self-support are structures such as online tools for simple troubleshooting. Finally, assisted support is software that lets employs help customers remotely, such as trouble ticket resolution.
In an ideal world, customers won’t have a clue about the technology being used in customer service—and that’s the way it should be. Combining automated “invisible” customer service with direct customer service is the best way to provide the experience your customers want. If you internally streamline processes behind the curtain while practice direct service excellence, you’re providing everyone with the structure they need to be happy.
Advances in customer service technology are impressive and constantly evolving. As a business owner, you need to adopt changes as necessary, but also provide ongoing service training to your workers. It’s a practice in balance, and when one side is off it will impact the other.
This post was originally published on Desk.com.
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