Back in the day, customer service was a murkier, more mysterious concept to most consumers, and they didn’t expect much when they did contact a company’s customer service department. For every Lands End with its generous return policies and helpful phone agents, there was a rice company that required you to mail in a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you wanted directions on how to cook their product in a microwave.
All that has changed.
In fact, customer service had no choice but to undergo a complete overhaul with the advent of the internet. Customer reviews, discussion threads, and review sites like Yelp forced companies to step up their customer service game. Today’s consumer wants his questions answered in a timely manner. Fortunately, customer service is embracing many communications methods beyond the phone and the self-addressed, stamped envelope. Here are 5 ways customer service is changing in 2013.
1. Re-Tweet After Me
Many businesses have customer service specialists devoted to monitoring Twitter for mentions of their products or services. Companies realize that one scathing Tweet could be picked up by thousands of other people, so they want to respond quickly to try to solve problems and minimize negative fallout from unmet customer needs. Today, not having a Twitter account or Facebook page is almost seen as weird, or out of touch.
2. Better Collaboration Among Support Agents Themselves
Panasonic, for example, has created an internal online platform for training and collaboration, called insite. It uses social media tools to help service agents share valuable information and guidance on addressing customer inquiries. If a customer reports an unusual problem, an agent can use insite to “crowdsource” the problem and take advantage of the expertise of other agents, often finding that a solution already exists and avoiding having to solve a customer’s service problem from scratch.
3. YouTube as a Customer Service Platform
YouTube is a very effective platform for companies to address customer needs. Some of the common ways YouTube does this are with:
- How-to videos
- Videos answering common customer questions
- Product tours and demonstrations
- Answering specific user questions on video from the “mailbag”
Companies from Apple to Lowes have found effective, creative ways to use video to improve customer service quickly and cost-effectively.
4. Blogs as a Customer Service Strategy
In a world of Instagram, SnapChat, and Vine, blogs seem positively old-fashioned, yet they can still be a very powerful customer service medium. A well-kept, regularly-updated blog can address bigger issues (“Why You May Have Had Trouble Reaching us By Phone Last Week”) and offer tips for customers to make the best possible use of products (“10 Creative Ways to Use Chalkboard Paint in Your Home”). Good blogs can sometimes generate entertaining and helpful comment threads as well. Though not as “in your face” as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube customer service, there is still a place for the blog in a company’s customer service repertoire.
5. Customer Service in the Cloud
Not only do social media outlets like Facebook run in the cloud, many companies use the cloud for their specific customer service software. Companies that once had on-site servers running legacy software for their IT help desk, for example, are quickly discovering that these functions can be provided quickly and cost-effectively as cloud-based applications. If your company uses a software-as-a-service, or SaaS help desk, your IT professionals don’t have to worry about the care and feeding of an on-site server for solving IT problems. There is no denying how fundamental to today’s customer service (both internal and external) the cloud is.
At Samanage, we provide SaaS service desk software that you can customize to your business’s specific needs. We also include smartphone apps that un-tether service desk workers, and social media integration that lets end users report problems easily, and that allows employees to help each other with solutions. The result is a service desk that runs efficiently, is updated automatically, and provides superior service so your company can run as smoothly as possible.
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