Customer service technology helps organizations of all sizes be more nimble.
With modern customer service technology, teams have more opportunities than ever to deliver exceptional service. They are empowered with an uncanny ability to visualize the entire history of customer interactions, making next steps in customer care clearer.
Like any technology, though, customer service technology can go wrong.
When your tech misbehaves, it inevitably sabotages any process it’s applied to. And since so much of software and IT is opaque, you might follow whatever recommendations it spits out – without ever knowing they’re off the mark.
It’s one thing when a piece of software stops working. It’s another when the problem is so subtle it leads you onto the wrong track. That can come from technical glitches, of course, but the issue is usually deeper: A misapplication of technology.
Let’s take a closer look at where customer service technology can fail your team:
1. Creating More Dead Ends for Your Customers
Like a trail of breadcrumbs through the forest, your customer service needs to lead somewhere.
If you install chat on your website, for example, it’s essential to make sure of two things:
- It works the way it’s supposed to – accepting and responding to inputs, for example.
- The person (or bot) on the other end of the chat line can actually help with problems.
When customers have a dilemma, they’ll take the route they think will be easiest to solve it. What happens when someone jumps on chat only to find that the rep there can’t be of any use to them? Naturally, they’ll feel cheated. This could make things rougher for the next agent they encounter.
2. Bad Routing of Customer Concerns
Poor call routing is a perennial problem in phone-based support, but it can crop up elsewhere.
When customers find themselves transferred between reps or departments, they’ll soon feel like they’re dealing with the federal government rather than their favorite(?) brand. The frustration mounts with each person they have to speak to, and the delays in between don’t help.
Bad routing can arise from a couple different issues, but the root is not always technological:
- Customers are given only a “general” customer service number in their documentation.
- Not many reps are informed or empowered enough to deal with certain types of issues.
Either of these problems results in a longer delay before an inbound contact can connect with someone who resolves their problem.
Technology can help in certain ways: A well-crafted IVR can help get callers to the right person fast, while a good internal knowledge base results in first call resolution of more query types. However, each rep must have the authority to act!
3. Lack of Preferred Options – Especially Phone
Customer service options are expanding. Fresh technologies like AI and social media are quickly replacing traditional approaches. In this evolution, phone support is often the first thing to go.
Phone is far and away not the fastest option, but many people still like it. In fact, a recent survey, nearly half of customers surveyed claimed they preferred phone service over alternatives.
In light of this, most enterprises should embrace the omni-channel approach to customer service. Alas, simply establishing a presence on social media isn’t sufficient. Your customer care software must be able to collect and tie together interaction data across all platforms.
As it stands, companies that have tossed phone service may want to look again. A responsive IVR can make the whole process more efficient. Whatever you do, don’t succumb to temptation to make it harder to find a support phone number. This will just add to frustration.
4. Inaccurate Data Leading to Wild Goose Chases
This is a core issue any time you use a Customer Relationship Management suite or any other software that requires manual data entry. Everyone who uses the software relies on the quality of data in the system, but actually adding that data is often the first thing forgotten.
It’s not surprising that when someone finishes a call, they want to move on to the next one.
The well-intentioned desire to get to the next waiting customer is understandable. But it can mean laying an unintended trap for reps who work with the system later on. In the worst case scenario, it may even lead to the wrong solutions being applied in the future.
Until AI develops much greater sensitivity to context, manual data entry won’t go away.
What’s the solution?
- Leaders must build data entry into the time each customer contact is expected to take.
- Data must continuously flow between customer care systems that “talk to each other.”
- Processes must be in place for manual verification of data on at least a yearly basis.
5. Efficiency Taking Humanity Out of the Picture
All the problems customer service technology can introduce come down to this.
Metrics are important, but you can’t always measure the human touch. Everyone involved in serving the public must be alert to the subtle signals customers send.
Customers may or may not be thrilled to talk to a representative. But they know when they feel as if their concerns are being depersonalized and “processed” rather than cared for.
Just as customer service agents should strive to make each person feel heard, leadership must be looking at the customer care journey. When that journey leaves customers feeling cold, they may end up with reduced esteem for your brand even though their problem gets solved.
Customer Service Technology is All in How You Use It
In 2019 and beyond, more companies will adopt innovative customer service technology. These technologies have the potential to radically change how support is given and received across all industries.
There are bound to be bumps along the way. In general, though, efficiency and humanity can co-exist. The outcome of any technology stems from the vision of those who use it.
The answer isn’t to scale back on customer service technology, but to be mindful and deliberate about how it affects your customers.