There's no denying the fact that customer service is important to a small or mid-sized business. The quality of that service will either enhance or degrade customer loyalty to your brand and your business. With the economy in recession, customers have more alternatives than ever. The business that proves to be responsive to customer questions, complaints, or other needs can gain a clear competitive advantage. That's why it's so important to understand how new technologies can help you anticipate customer needs, tailor business processes to best serve customers, and ultimately improve the efficiency of your business – the latter of which can keep costs down.
Customer Service Technology
There are a few major areas in which technology now is able to help provide key advantages to businesses in engendering customer loyalty by improving customer service:
- Websites. Providing areas on your website where customers can answer their own questions or seek answers from others.
- E-mail. Using e-mail as a way to improve customer service and more quickly respond to certain needs or help requests.
- Communications. Unifying communications so that you know that the customer who left a voice mail also sent an e-mail with the same request a few days ago.
- Software. Better managing customer relationships with more sophisticated data-gathering tools, such as customer relationship management software.
Giving Customers What They Want, When They Want It
The goal of your business in terms of its customer interactions is the generate loyalty. There's no better way to do that than to offer quality products and services and to be responsive to your customers. But as new technologies have come to market to make it easier for businesses to provide customer service, they may also be increasing the number of channels through which you interact with customers and the complexity of those interactions. Accenture, the technology consulting firm, suggests that businesses that want to use technology to raise the quality of their customer service focus on the following:
- Data management and analytics. Using data collected from customer to analyze their preferences.
- Insight-driven marketing. Gaining insights into your business from customer data so you can more effectively target marketing.
- Marketing automation. Streamlining and automating business processes to improve efficiency and keep costs low.
- Self-service optimization. Finding ways for customers to interact with your business when they want.
- Workforce effectiveness. Encouraging your staff to embrace new ways improving customer treatment by providing tools and training to deliver better service.
The following articles will provide an overview of the ways you can use technologies to better serve your customers and, in the process, better serve your business goals.
Wagner, Todd, Treating Your Customers Right, November, 2003.
Wasserman, Elizabeth, Tech Talk: Online Game Site Develops Forum IncTechnology.com, 2009.
Zetlin, Minda, Helping Customers Help Each Other Online, IncTechnology.com, 2007.
Zetlin, Minda, Making Chat Work for Customers, 2008.