Customer Service Must Embrace Technology


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There are some very cool and amazing technologies that are helping companies deliver a better customer service experience. It’s more than Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. It’s more than the cool CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software that is available. Even if you feel you aren’t technologically savvy, don’t currently use any type of technology or apps to provide customer service, or if you aren’t involved in a call center, you should still be interested in this article. It is an indication that if you aren’t already doing so, you must embrace technology to augment and enhance your customer service.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Stamm, CEO/President and Joe McFadden, Senior Director, Marketing at Enkata. We’re all familiar with the recording that precedes many of the conversations we have with a customer service representatives: “This call may be recorded for quality purposes.” This means the company may go back and listen to your call to see what worked, what didn’t, etc., and use it to help train other customer service reps.

Enkata analyzes why successful calls are successful, and why unsuccessful calls aren’t. Their technology (a computer, not humans) listens to the call to pick up on key words that are common between successful calls, certain phrasing, certain dialects, the cadence of the customer service reps’ voice and more. The goal is to get as close as possible to the perfect call, going beyond just using the right words, but also looking at how they are phrased. Using analytics and measurement, it gives a report that the corporate training department can use to help get their customer service reps closer to success. The goal is to model success and minimize failures by teaching customer service reps to, for lack of a better term, mimic the successful call. How cool is that!

Lauren Carlson is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) analyst for Software Advice. According to Lauren, a recent report from “Call Center Times” showed that 78 percent of consumers use mobile apps for customer service. Apparently using mobile phone apps is a good alternative to picking up the phone, dialing a number and waiting on hold to talk to a live person. She posted an article on the company’s blog that described several customer service apps that consumers are using to get information and help quickly, as well as what apps some companies are using to provide support to their customers – all from their smart phones. You can read the article at:

Not long ago I wrote about how social media and technology are combining to create great customer service. ( My friend Vala Afshar, Chief Customer Officer of Enterasys, was a focus of the article. I was with him the other day and he made a great comment. Social media is not just for people. It is now for “things.” A thermostat that controls temperature can use social media to communicate to a computer that will relay a message (again using social media) to a maintenance engineer. It’s all done in the spirit of taking care of customers.

Technology is here and it is continuing to play a bigger part in our lives. You can’t ignore it. You must embrace it. Especially if it enhances the customer experience.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.


  1. Meh. That’s the party line. Mind you companies aren’t doing what you say en masse, and I’d suggest that cool and amazing doesn’t make better customer experience. Most technologies start off as cool and amazing, even voice mail, yet…well, it doesn’t work the way people hoped.

    I love the new technologies, but except for isolated case studies, I don’t see that technology necessarily creates a better customer experience. In fact, what I see is the more you intersperse technology between human at company and human customer, the worse service and experience gets.

  2. . . . not because it can create the right outcome. If you’re concerned that technology will work at cross-purposes for good customer service, then you should probably re-think why you intend to use it.

    This is why some companies that “embrace technology” fall off the good-customer-experience rails. Management thinks more about having technology for its own sake, losing sight of which customer experience outcomes are desirable and valuable in the first place. For me, not a day goes by that I don’t “interact” with some bit of software that was implemented with this shortsightedness (“Please listen to our menu options because some of them might have changed.” “Press or say one.” “We’re sorry. We did not understand your response. Please enter your option.” Yuck.)

    Many years ago, I had a client who told me that “we have to get to barcoding.” What he meant was that he wanted to integrate barcoding into all of his logistics operations. At the time, I cautioned him about that goal. “You will only be unhappy.” I told him. He wasn’t focused on operational outcomes, just on getting hardware and software installed. I guess if he were measured on that alone, he might have gotten a nice bonus. But his management wanted higher inventory accuracy, faster turns, lower labor expenses. Barcoding was only one part of the solution, and he wasn’t considering the entire picture.

    In the case of deciding whether to buy any technology, outcomes are the key consideration, and whether value is returned to the company.

  3. So true, Andrew, but the claims made for various customer service oriented technologies, from CRM to using social media are so loud and insistent that I fear that the majority of companies are using technology that often makes the customer experience WORSE. While I’m not a fan of customer service surveys, they are pretty much universal in returning “results” that indicate customers perceive customer service in general, as getting worse each year, the exception being that some surveys are showing improvements in service perceptions of government agencies.

    Technology CAN help, on a service level and a business results level, but the very loud marketing voices for tech solutions, I think, push decision-makers in the wrong directions.

    One of my favorite saying is: “Computers and technology can increase the speed at which you do the wrong things”.

    Are companies having trouble separating the marketing hype for shiny new toys from the business benefits?

  4. The key is that companies shouldn’t be phobic of technology, and decide not to invest after one company’s bad experience, or because executives simply don’t understand how it works. If that were the case, industry would have installed only one ERP system, and it would be defunct.

    There are many examples of failed IT projects that people embarked on based on technological promise. In my experience, I’ve seen warehouses full of cast-off hardware, each with its own project story. But an excellent case for IT project failure is the oft-studied Denver Airport baggage handling system. With not a single techno-phobe on the project team, the staff fully embraced technology, but performed many mis-steps in implementing it. At or near the top of the list was forgetting what they really needed to achieve in the first place.

  5. Thanks for all of your comments. Robert – great quote about how computers/technology can increase the speed at which you do the wrong things. Someone once said that computers/technology may not make things better, just faster. I add that we’re probably talking about creating efficiency. At the end of the day, people do business with people. If there is technology involved, it was designed or implemented by people. So, always keep that in mind. As I said above, technology should be used to enhance service.


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