There’s a lot to be said for human interaction. A friendly smile, a genuine desire to serve or a sincere apology can all enhance the customer service experience. That said, we can’t do it all. Is there a way to utilise technology to benefit customer service, without losing the personal touch?
I’m a strong advocate for having the right processes in place. When processes underpin an organisation, the service is typically more efficient, consistent and reliable. Technology can be implemented as part of your business processes. The aim should be to find solutions that make it easier for your team to do their job. The right technology should free up time to focus on personalised customer interactions.
Digital Council of the Year 2018
As a resident of Aylesbury, I was interested to learn that our local council, AVDC, has been actively implementing new systems to support customer service. They have reduced response rates for enquiries by 50% and increased customer satisfaction, whilst also lowering operational costs.
At a time when all Council budgets have been cut for several consecutive years, it may seem surprising that investment in technology has been at the heart of improvements. By utilising digital technology, AVDC has strived to make customer service more convenient and efficient and they’ve made considerable cost savings in the process.
AI and Connected Knowledge
AVDC was keen to ensure that local residents could easily access information. In preparation, they asked staff to provide full and appropriate answers to frequently asked questions. These became the basis for providing web chats and voice-controlled request and responses.
To date, around 45,000 local residents have signed up for ‘My Account’. This offers online self-service facilities, which can be accessed at any time of the day or night. The result has been a considerable reduction in calls and costs, without any decline in customer satisfaction.
The Personal Touch
Whilst human interaction has its merits, it doesn’t always deliver the best results. Faced with an angry or upset customer, our own emotions can get in the way of providing customer service excellence. There’s a risk that we respond defensively or get upset, rather than dealing with the matter based on facts.
What’s more, at the end of a tiring day, we might find it hard to remain upbeat, fully-focused and committed to the customer. These factors can be reduced if we use digital technology. What’s more, if technology can efficiently handle standard requests, it frees up time for the team to focus on resolving more specialist, bespoke or complex requests.
As we look to the future, it is likely that more companies will be embracing technology for customer service. It offers a means of boosting efficiency and convenience, whilst helping the organisation to remain financially competitive.
Small Business Technology
Even a small business could benefit from software and apps that aid customer service by streamlining internal systems, managing request handling and enhancing after-sales support.
Internal Systems to Enhance Customer Service
Not all technology needs to be used by customers. A focus on digitalising internal systems can help the team to work more effectively together, which results in customer service improvements. Technology, such as Slack, supports internal communication, file sharing and project tracking and can make it easier for anyone in the team to respond to customer queries.
Software for Request Handling
If your company receives a considerable volume of requests, through multiple channels, it is easy for some to slip through the net. A customer who doesn’t receive a response isn’t going to be happy, but there are a number of tools to reduce this risk.
Zendesk, Freshdesk and Desk.com are three options which support effective responses to email, web, phone and social media requests. As cloud-based systems, they can ensure that you keep track of all incoming communication, whether you are at your desk, or out and about.
Technology for Presenting Information
After-sales support is often neglected. All efforts go into gaining the customer, but have you put sufficient resources in place for when they have placed an order? Nickelled is software that simplifies the process of creating user manuals, website tutorials and other valuable information which helps the customer to get the most from your products and services. It can also reduce the volume of calls that your team have to manage.
Customer Service Excellence
By combining suitable technology with well-trained employees, your organisation will be on route to delivering customer service excellence and the cost of implementation will soon reap rewards.
*The technology mentioned in this article is just a selection of the available options. Other products may be better suited to your requirements