By: Emma Miller
For as long as businesses have existed, so has customer service. With each advance in technology, it appears the way organisations deliver customer service has evolved. Similarly, customers themselves have grown to expect faster responses, at almost all times of day.
Whether you run a business that’s small, large, or somewhere in-between, anticipating these changes will work to your advantage. Here are some ways that technology will affect customer service in the future.
An increase in video-based customer service
Although phones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, it appears that video technology will start to grab its share of the market. From video voicemails through to video customer service calls, businesses will need to start putting faces to their voices.
When you consider video customer service carefully, it’s easy to see why it will be a winner. Not all communication is verbal. Excellent customer service staff will be able to convey empathy using their facial expressions, which may boost a business’ reputation. Additionally, eye contact provides a more personal touch. As most people across Australia have smartphones, and many are switching to NBN data plans, they’ll be able to use video customer service on the go.
Self-service will continue to grow
Not all customer service queries require a human response. More businesses are using self-service customer support than ever. Usually, self-service involves creating a detailed FAQ section that customers can search through. Depending on the query they’re making, they may be able to access tutorials or automated responses that guide them through their problem.
The aim of self-service is to reduce the length of time customers spend waiting for a call. It’s particularly advantageous for those who work long hours or who do shift work. With self-service, customers can resolve their problems in the dead of night, on the train, or even while they’re in the bath.
Instant messaging may replace email
Email customer service has been available for some time now. One of the biggest problems associated with it is the slow response times. Although emails send instantly, customers may be waiting a little while for someone to respond to their query.
Instant messaging is now more accessible than ever for businesses of all sizes. If your business has a Facebook page, you may find that Facebook, rather usefully, identifies how fast your response times are. If you use Facebook messenger as a means of answering questions, and you respond quickly, potential customers will see your speedy response times displayed proudly on your page.
Another advantage of using instant messaging is continuity. When you rely on email for online inquiries, there’s little consistency for the customer. In contrast, when they’re addressing their problem in real-time with IM, they’re more likely to remain talking to the same person. Over time, this could translate to a better experience for the customer.
Social media will make things public
As most people now know, what’s said on social media will remain visible for the world to see. If you’re prepared to offer a first-class customer service experience, this is something you can use to your advantage. With businesses around the world using Twitter and Facebook to answer customer questions publicly, it’s time for smaller organisations to get in on the action too.
Using social media as a customer service tool allows you to show your business’ best side. And the chances are, customers will try to reach out to you using your handles anyway. Trying to shift their query into a private domain may not give the best impression to prospective customers. In contrast, answering questions openly and with a customer-friendly voice will improve your public image.
Social media also makes it easier for your customers to access your team on the go. Providing they have the right app on their smartphone, they can reach you. By giving them a response, you retain a little control over the process.
Customer service bots will become sharper
If you’ve ever hopped onto a website to find a pop-up box prompting you to ask a question, you’ve probably encountered a customer service bot. Thanks to artificial intelligence, they’re almost as good as talking to a real person. As they’re available at any time of the day, they beat real people in terms of accessibility.
Using analytics, customer service bots can fine-tune their responses. Predictive personalisation allows them to create a non-frustrating experience for the customer, which makes them as useful as talking to a real person.
If you choose to use a customer service bot, make sure you continue to augment your customers’ experience with real human interactions. Not all generations feel comfortable with the idea of a bot-driven conversation, plus there are some problems that only a human can resolve.
Customer service could drive your success
Thanks to all these advances in technology, customer service could become a key competitive indicator of success. Having access to more technologies presents advantages in different ways. But when you use them incorrectly and are not able to provide the seamless experience that customers expect, you could also do more harm than good.
As markets increasingly become saturated, fine-tuning your customer service experience can make you stand out from the crowd. Having a growing number of options also allows you to tailor your approach according to your target market. If you become aware that your audience prefers one type of customer resolution, you can use it to gain an advantage over your competitors.
With many customer service changes on the horizon, your company will need to adapt. Always remember to measure the success of new technology when you try it. And, focus on making your approaches mobile-friendly so they’re always accessible.
About the author
Emma Miller is a marketer and a writer from Sydney, working with Australian startups on business and marketing development. Emma writes for many relevant, industry related online publications and does a job of an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University.