The demand for websites that are a key component of customer-business interaction started about 10 years ago and has continue to rise until, now, it is the norm for businesses to have a well-run and functional website for customers to use to gather information, place orders, and execute other various tasks related to any given company or cause. Yet once again the way customer service is delivered is drastically changing: the past two years have seen the quick rise of social media and some, if not most, companies have begun to leverage this new channel as another touch point with their consumers. Those businesses who haven’t will need to do so if they are to stay competitive.
But what if we step back a few years and consider the phone? With the rise of smartphones globally, it’s safe to say that the phone as a means of interaction is not going anywhere. So why have the consumer’s interactions with most businesses largely not changed over the past 30 years? Why is it that when I’m traveling, my Internet browser can recognize my current zip code but when I call certain companies they still have to ask me for my phone number? Maybe it’s time for IVRs and call centers to step up and make similar improvements by leveraging the information they have on me, a customer,—like an account ID that is tied to a certain phone number or a recent order that was placed—to provide all of their customers better and faster service.
The future of customer service includes incorporating trends that leverage consumer data, social media, and increased use of mobile technologies such as smartphones. Organizations have a huge task in front of them of combining these initiatives to create 360 degrees of customer service and erasing the past 30 years of the bad technology associated with their old IVR and call center technologies.
It is important to remember that to complete the 360 degrees of various touch points to your customers, you must incorporate your customers’ connections with partnering organizations. This additional customer touch point should be considered, but seems too frequently forgotten, and focuses on how your partners are treating and delivering services to your customers. For example, it is fairly common for companies to develop partnerships and to utilize others’ services to fulfill certain client needs or business goals. Making efforts to work with partnering companies to provide a seamless customer experience across all levels is a vital piece often left untouched.
As an example, Company A is a retail clothing and shoe store and has a partnership with Company B for shoe sales only. A member of Company A’s loyalty program calls to place an order for shoes; in an automated system, she selects the shoe department, then women’s boots, and identifies herself as a loyalty program member. However, when the customer finally reaches the final step of placing the specific order with Company B, the agent has no information on the caller and her selections, forcing her to repeat herself. Company A is responsible for creating a more seamless transition for the customer so she does not have to provide the same information more than once in a single interaction.
Let us know what you think. How well do you feel you are being serviced by the companies you interact with?