Traditionally, customer support was a relatively straightforward part of a company’s operations. Business interacted directly with consumers in the story or via a call center. Periodically, the marketing department would conduct focus groups as part of their product testing process and complement these results by surveying customers and the rest was educated guesswork.
Then technology blew up customer support. The Internet provided easy access to information delivered through knowledge base tools, informing and educating customers and ultimately empowering them to shop elsewhere if the customer experience didn’t match their expectations.
Rise of the Customer Service Imperative
Social media placed the customer firmly at the center of the sales ecosystem, generating an epic flood of content and commentary, much of it captured in knowledge base tools, fragmenting communication channels, turning real-time customer engagement into a 24 hours-a-day operation.
In 2015, the Forrester Customer Index showed companies with a strong customer experience focus saw a 43 percent gain in performance, while those that did not experienced a 33.9 percent performance decline.
7 Technologies Transforming How We Scale Customer Support
Here are seven technologies that have impacted on how companies scale customer support:
In today’s busy one-the-go business environment, customers are only an arm’s length away from their smartphone. Any wonder mobile is emerging as the first line for customer service. Mobile enables an easy way for consumers to get information and interact with a business in real-time at the point of sale. As people can interact with brands anytime and anywhere, brands have to adapt and learn to operate the same way. Consumers want real-time interactions and expect pain-free support to come with it.
The rise of mobile has also created opportunities for a more complete customer care experience, too. Using photos and mobile video chat, integrated with a knowledge base tool, a support representative can get a much quicker and more accurate understanding of a customer issue, enabling a faster resolution to many problems.
- Big Data
As inbound marketing and social media flourishes, they are generating vast streams of data. Enhanced analytics platforms are providing customer service insights that make for improved and more informed decision-making.
A rich knowledge base tool, integrating multiple data streams is transforming how customer interactions are supported at a service level.
Big data is beginning to allow customer support contact centers to accurately predict customer needs in the short time between a customer reaching out and the agent’s initial interaction with them. This capability is speeding up service and boosting the quality of support being provided.
- Social Media
Social media is transforming customer service. As a two-way communication flow, social media is both a distribution channel for customer support and a leading indicator of customer sentiment. Tapping into social media feeds helps companies keep their finger on the pulse of their customer base. Through the use of technologies such as text mining, sentiment analysis, and contextual analytics, businesses are better serving their customers by understanding them better. Social media facilitates engagement with customers in a highly efficient, 1:1 digital conversation that is cross-platform, real-time and persistent.
- Live Chat
Troubleshooting a customer purchase has radically altered how companies provide customer care, Real-time, face-to-face customer support builds rapport between customer and brand, taking the customer service model early 360 back to where customer service began, one-on-one and in person. By enabling live chat to be seamlessly embedded into websites and smartphone apps, on-screen guided assistance helps redefine customer support
- Influencer and Brand Ambassadors
Cultivating loyal customers who serve as product ambassadors is a new and important form of customer service in an age where social media driven influencer networks enjoy significant traction. Self-service based support has emerged as a popular service model for solving common issues via peer-to-peer networks.
Enabling customers to share their experiences with one another is a new form of peer-to-peer self-service. This could be as simple as including a ‘share to Twitter’ link next to a knowledge article that helped them solve a problem or it could involve a more structured knowledge base tool solution.
- Predictive Customer Service Via The Internet Of Things
The customer no longer is the only source of issues reporting and product feedback; businesses are using the Internet of Things revolution, where devices self-report operating conditions and outcomes, as a way to predict and preemptively act on customer service needs.
Greater intelligence inputs, remote troubleshooting, and remotely delivered software-based product upgrades are emerging as delivery sources for an improved customer experience. Businesses are leveraging their knowledge base to create a highly effective form of stealth customer service. The proliferation of devices and services incorporating self-monitoring sensors are helping businesses initiate service interactions before failures occur, even preventing problems before customers know of them.
- Apostles of Advanced Self-Service: Google and Siri
Crowdsourcing and Google have transformed the way we discover answers to our questions. Mobile empowers customers to be their own greatest resource, and smart businesses offer robust self-service options and proactively identify, create, review, publish and maintain multimedia content that customers can use and agents can recommend for self-service.
The most advanced are even taking a lead from Siri, Apple’s mobile operating system’s robotic assistant. Digital assistants built into mobile devices are becoming capable of resolving customer service issues without any direct involvement from the company itself. Companies that make their support services friendlier to digital assistants have an opportunity to greatly increase customer satisfaction with their products while avoiding the costs of a live service interaction.
A revolution in how we deliver customer support is under way. Technology is transforming how we collate and curate knowledge using knowledge base tools, how we deliver customer support and how we are increasingly empowering customers on the path to self-service via peer-to-peer driven models. Understanding the potential of these technologies, how they scale and how best to apply them is one of the biggest challenges facing customer support leaders in the next few years.