When I was a kid, there were five TV Channels; ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and a local channel. I remember it was a big deal when another independent channel was added – and it needed an additional antenna that attached to the back of the TV. Now there are hundreds of channels. And, we have choices of the type of system or company we want to do business with. We can get our TV via the phone lines, cable, satellite dish and devices that allow you to watch TV via your computer using the Internet. I always smile when my kids say to me they can’t find anything to watch on TV.
Well, it appears that business, and specifically customer service and support, is going through a transformation that is not unlike the traditional television of yesteryear. There used to be only two or three ways to communicate with a company when you had a customer service issue; the phone, in-person and written correspondence. Now, like TV, there are many channels the customer can use to communicate with the company, get customer service, purchase merchandise and more.
So back to the concept of the evolution of customer service. Most clients I work with recognize that customer service and support has changed. Phone, while still viable, is falling to newer technology. Email and instant-chat are almost old-school.
Who would have thought that “self-help” customer service would be acceptable? Well, it is. Companies have developed websites that make it easy for a customer to find answers to their questions. Taken to another level, some companies have set up “support forums” that are run by their customers to support other customers. Customers helping other customers, what a concept!
Then there is social media. There are over 243 million active users on Twitter and over 1.23 billion on Facebook. Many of them are using these social channels to communicate with the companies they do business with. If you aren’t interacting with your customers on multiple channels, you can bet your competition is.
And now we are entering an era that takes us even further than social media. There are mobile apps on our smart phones that connect us to our customers. GPS tracking tells us when our customers walk in our stores. Some businesses have apps that enable customers to pay for their merchandise with their smart phones. If you aren’t developing an app or some other technology to enhance your customer’s experience, there’s a pretty good chance your competition is.
The idea behind customer support isn’t changing. It’s how we go about it that’s changing. And, it’s changing faster than ever. It’s not that each year there is something new in the world of customer service and experience. It’s each month. So, what does all this mean? Adapt and adopt – or be left behind.
QUESTION FOR YOU: What is the coolest, latest and greatest technology you’re using to enhance your customer service and the overall customer’s experience?