Technology isn’t a substitute for great service

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On the face of it, the title for this blog is a strange assertion from a senior executive of a company offering technology-based solutions to improve customer service.

But I was recently asked to comment about the future of customer service in 2020. This got me thinking. Much has been talked about the impact of social media on customer service, and, don’t get me wrong, I really believe that social media (or the great great grandchild of what we currently call social media) is going to play a major role in the customer service of the future.

But, regardless of the technology that exists – or will exist – we can’t lose sight of the most basic universal customer service truth: good service is good service, and bad service is bad service.  And that basic tenet applies regardless of industry, company size or the way we reach out to the companies we do business with. And I think we can all take as read that the quality of customer service has a huge impact on any organisation’s success.

Companies should be aiming for exemplary customer service, and the role of technology is simply to facilitate that commitment.  Look at the latest technology for reading books; i.e. e-book readers. The likes of Sony, Amazon and Apple have created amazing pieces of equipment, using cutting-edge technology, but people are still using it to read books that were written 200 years ago.  Some things, whether they are great literature or first class customer service might be supported by technology, but actually represent something much more fundamental.

Indeed, negative comments being made in a social networking environment are usually a symptom of something going wrong much deeper within the organization.  A negative image amongst users of social media web sites is not, therefore, the sickness, but just a very public symptom. Companies will need to get to the root cause of what is causing this level of frustration and dissatisfaction amongst their customers, and tackle it at the source.

Ultimately, no company will be able to control what’s being said about them on social media web sites, but they can control the level of customer service that they are providing. In other words, if a business sets and maintains a high standard for customer service from board level right down through the organization then it will have nothing to fear from social media, and a great deal to gain.  Whatever format social media takes.

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