Customer service has always been one of the most important aspects of business.
Simply by providing exemplary customer service, you can create strong relationships which help build brand loyalty which encourages repeat business, whereas only offering poor quality of service is the fastest way to lose customers forever.
There have been many technological advancements over recent years which help companies interact better with customers, especially for small-sized businesses and start-ups with limited budgets for traditional advertising and marketing avenues. It doesn’t matter what size business you have, anticipating how new technology will change your industry will always be an advantage. Below are some ways technology is going to have an effect on customer service over the coming years.
One–on-one instant messaging and chat apps have been increasing exponentially in popularity over the past decade and are now the preferred contact method for many customers and businesses alike for many reasons. Instant messaging is much faster than email communication and easier than making phone calls and being put on hold for an hour. Businesses can provide a much better level of service to their customers with IM by answering their questions, taking their appointments, or even making sales within minutes, instead of hours or days.
One of the other main advantages of communicating online via instant messaging is continuity. When customers use email for their online inquiries, the interaction can take much longer and multiple employees may end up involved, which provides very little consistency. Whereas when having a conversation using instant messaging, they’re much more likely to have their query answered by the same person. This quality service and fast turnaround time provide a better level of customer service which can ultimately translate into increased sales.
Technology has empowered businesses by allowing them to create targeted digital marketing campaigns based on buying history and other customer demographics. Through social media marketing and other online tools, businesses can tailor their strategies, so prospective clients within their target audience only see ads for the services or products most relevant to them.
With access to in-depth data analysis, specific targeting of locations or keywords, and a much wider overall reach, digital marketing is more effective and often yields significantly better results than traditional advertising methods. Digital channels such as Google adwords marketing will be more popular as businesses will be able to track each dollar of ad spend to their exact return.
With almost unlimited possibilities, virtual reality is already changing how businesses interact with customers with increasingly creative, engaging, and exciting content. Businesses everywhere in almost every industry are increasingly using aspects of VR to stay ahead of their competition. For example, businesses such as Crystal Bathrooms have been able to design a customer’s bathroom in virtual reality and give their customers a tour of the bathroom before construction begins. Welcome to the future!
Artificial Intelligence is also increasing in popularity for online businesses, with online chatbots programmed to have conversations with customers where they can answer a range of basic questions. AI is also being used to provide and automate a wide range of business solutions, such as preventing fraudulent transactions and analysing incoming customer data in real-time to predict behaviour and influence purchasing habits.
Today’s workplace is relying increasingly on employees working remotely. This was all but impossible when businesses relied on brick and mortar stores with landline telephones and dial-up fax machines. The last decade has seen messaging applications and other applications become integral to businesses, with access to large quantities of cheap mobile data making it even more feasible.
Remote working provides companies with an excellent opportunity to reap long-term financial benefits simply by changing their views on the sustainability of working in an office. Some of the biggest advantages to a remote work model include reduced size and cost of office space, less commutes for work and other business trips, and an increased focus on employee happiness.
Tipped to be the fastest-growing customer service channel over the next few years, self-service is being embraced by many businesses because it lowers business costs which increases profits. While some companies are creating increasingly sophisticated ways to interact with their customers, those who don’t create similar self-service options will probably lose sales as they’ll seem out of touch to many average consumers.
Self-service can either be in the physical world, like the touchscreens in fast food restaurants, or they could be online like detailed and searchable self-help and FAQ sections. Customers with access to self-service solutions are often able to resolve many, if not all, their problems without ever requiring a human response, which is why more businesses are providing it than ever before.
Over the last 15 years, social media has become an intricate and intimate part of life for most people, and it will continue to be around for the foreseeable future. Whether you see the popularity explosion of social media as positive or not, it has undoubtedly taken some of the control from businesses and given it to consumers.
Whenever customers historically had an unpleasant experience with a company or brand, they only discussed it with their closest friends and extended family. But with access to social media, any customer who is unhappy or angry with a product or service can post about their experience online which could possibly be seen by millions of users and even picked up by local or international media like TV or papers. Businesses must ensure all of their staff are fully trained in best practice policies for customer service. Ultimately, this is a win for businesses and customers alike.
While companies have been adopting and integrating new ideas into their businesses continually since the dawn of time, customers are always increasingly expecting better customer service. Businesses and brands alike need to step up to this challenge by meeting and exceeding customer service expectations. Thankfully with access to the latest advancements in technology, businesses everywhere can find ways they can offer a much better customer experience to all of their clients.
Felix is the founder of Society of Speed, an automotive journal covering the unique lifestyle of supercar owners. Alongside automotive journalism, Felix recently graduated from university with a finance degree and enjoys helping students and other young founders grow their projects.