Future of service: will HELP be found?

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I popped into a Tesco express in the west of London, England, to grab a quick lunch when I suddenly sighted a very huge man. This was not the security guard, in case you are wondering, but a member of staff armed with a very long and bold sign-post, displaying a question that delights most customers: ‘Can I help you?’ I was impressed and went about my shopping as I instantly realised they have reshuffled the positioning of some items on the shelves. This change of the position of some of the items stripped every string of shopping confidence I had and led me to walk up to the visible help in the form of a 6ft4 gentleman with a sky-high blue sing-post. As he saw me walking up to him for help, instead of waiting for me to get to him, he walked up to me and offered help. This was a defining moment in my customer journey and experience. Afterwards, I have visited the same shop on a number of occasions and have met at least one individual, normally a very tall and visible member of staff with the same sign, smile and stride- aimed at making the customer have a smooth journey and memorable shopping experience.

This experience made me pause and ponder at why in some stores; a customer has to walk past a couple of aisles to find a staff member that is willing to help. I can recall Jacob Morgan doing a wonderful job on the ‘future of work and collaboration.’ This prompted me to research and write on the issues on the future of service. Where is customer service headed for? What will customer service look like in 2020? Where will customers find HELP? There are a couple of predictions on the future of customer service, as many believe there will be an overwhelming surge in social customer service. PWC are of the opinion that there will be mobile applications that will equip customers with specific information about a product before entering a retail store or visiting online. The customer 2020 report also indicates that customer experience will surpass price and product as the key brand differentiator.

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A common denominator in the future of customer experience is that customers are becoming more enlightened, equipped with information, socially connected and are presented with more product options. The truth is that, companies will have to do more to retain her existing customers or acquire new customers- through exceptional and visible customer experience. Customers are too busy to look for HELP, they want to be found by HELP and they want it now. There is more urgency amongst the customer base and they are not willing to spend a while on your website to browse through a meaningless frequently asked questions section, which is full of questions that are chosen by what the company considers relevant.

The future of service is one that presents HELP at the doorstep for customers- a very visible and unmistaken HELP. On a website, the visibility could be in the form of an inbuilt customer forum or a web chat functionality that has a brief waiting time. Companies will have to put more effort in having HELP visible in her social accounts on Youtube, Facebook and twitter. An example could be, proactively posting videos that demonstrate how customers can install an application, assemble a DIY appliance or soft reset an unresponsive device. When a company has HELP visible, audible and approachable (or accessible) then they could have that competitive advantage.

The great Inventor, Thomas Edison opined, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Making HELP visible, audible and approachable (or accessible) is very important if you want your brand to stand out. The future of customer service is having HELP visible!

Dateme Tamuno
Dateme Tamuno (Tubotamuno) is currently working as part of the SEO and PPC delivery team for UK based digital agency, Cariad Marketing. He has also completed a book on user-generated content marketing.

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