Why Collaboration Technology Is Important For Customer Service


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“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground. “ (Jerry Gregoire)

In order for any company to survive on the market, satisfied customers are the key. No customers, no business – as simple as that.

All companies, from a small family business to multinational corporations are searching for ways to improve business processes, lower costs and improve profitability. Customer service is the crucial part of any business since it is a direct link to product users. New technologies enable better customer service by providing instant feedback of customers to the company, but also from the company to customers, saving time and money. A quality interaction means the customer is likely to do business with the organization again and the profit will be made.


Collaboration technology tools in customer service

Customer service is a continually evolving process. The aim is to get new and maintain old satisfied customers, resolve problems faster in a consistent matter and if possible, do all this at a lower cost. Here, collaboration tools take place. According to “Turning Customer Service into Customer Collaboration” article, collaboration technology tools can:

• Reduce costs,

• Improve customer relations, and

• Create new experience for customers.

Collaborative tools, which provide interaction, such as web self services, various social networks, video interaction should be used to communicate with the customers.


Call Centers Cost Reduction

So far, call centers have been the pillars of customer service. A customer calls, an operator answers the phone and listens carefully or, a bit more advanced, the recorded messages are played according to the customer’s chosen preferences. Talking to machine sometimes can be just a little more frustrating than talking to an operator who is not in charge to solve your problem. Nonetheless, call centers are still needed to communicate with customers but they can be modernized to be far more effective and cost less.

By installing web self-service tools, interactive voice response (IVR), robust reporting and shifting more functions to the cloud, a significant amounts of money can be saved: according to ZK Research U.K.’s National Health Service saved £300,000 a year with cloud-based, self-service tools as an alternative to the call center and not having to hire 30 operators.


Call Centre Improvements

In addition, operators who work in the call centers can highly benefit from collaboration tools. Network based collaboration tools are able to automate simple, repetitive tasks by intelligent call routing and integration with customer systems such as customer relationship management (CRM). Eliminating the support person from the interaction reduces the chance of a mistake and can speed up customer interaction times.

However, there are still certain customer demands which can be arranged by a single call and operator response but more complex issues require a team approach within the company. Collaboration technologies, which can be built into specific support tools or exist independently, are helping support departments work together to address customer issues.

For example, an operator who faced a customer problem which he or she cannot solve on his own can use a Knowledge Network to:

• Search the data base, which if managed properly contains group knowledge and is a place where answers to common problems can be found. The access to a company’s database can be limited for some employees or unrestricted.

• Check if there is a similar problem in the wiki or other type of shared documentation. The wiki documents are communally edited documents by its users which means they are regularly updated.

• Do research into how the same problem has been solved before. This is another example of using shared knowledge to address a problem.

• Interact with colleagues in the company using internal message network without involving other people in the communication with the customer. These conversations can be searched on, again by other operators.

More and more companies are using technology tools to enhance collaboration, within the company and with customers, as well. The possibility to search through the database, wiki articles and all conversations when looking for a problem resolution makes the response time to the customer shorter, since all forms of communication about issues are stored in one location and easily accessible.

According to the Tally Fox, another advantage of using collaboration tools in the customer support department is that it provides appropriate training for the employees, based on company experience. The company’s database will grow over time and it will be valuable as a resource when training the new operators, but also as the starting point for all support agents.


New Customer Experience

Nowadays customers want more and they need to get more. Customers want their voice to be heard but not only through a phone call to a customer service. They want to access the company with voice, on chat, through social media, web or even video. It is up to customer service to provide all this. It is important to offer services through a variety of channels which would engage customers to deal with the company on their terms. This can be made through collaboration applications which enable more different ways to interact with and serve customers.

Technology breaks down distance, time and media barriers. Email responding to the customers is a must but sometimes it takes a lot of time for an email to be read and properly answered but a person responsible for an instant message chat can answer to a customer immediately. Customer support can be provided on long distance, for example: an agent via video conferencing can show the user how to do online payment or illustrate how to set up a device by sharing a video. A better customer experience grants customer loyalty, in addition to improving the speed and close rate for sales.

These days all the companies need to be customer-centric by providing the most to the customer and collaboration technology tools provide channels to reach for each and every customer. It is up to a company to use it properly.

Image credit: 123RF Photo Stock

Damian Wolf
Damian Wolf is a business strategist, writer and tech enthusiast from Brisbane. He mostly writes about business strategy, opportunities and using technology in business.


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