In many businesses, long gone are the days of handshake deals and knowing all the names of your customers.
In today’s world, you’re lucky to even recognize regulars — especially if your company has a large online presence. How, then, can you be expected to provide better customer service in a world where the human touch is increasingly lost from the world of business? Many business owners are finding ways to reach out to their increasingly widespread customer base using technology, but whether or not this will lead to better customer service remains to be seen.
How Technology is Changing Customer Service
Some people may argue that old-fashioned customer service is out the door these days, and while the personal touch can be harder to come by, many customers would agree that they’re still getting competent customer service. American Express reports in their 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer that a full 67 percent of customers today believe that companies are meeting or exceeding their service expectations, both online and off.
Although customers are increasingly turning to technology for answers, when times get tough they still look to humans for help. American Express saw that 48 percent of customers preferred to speak to another person about a difficult inquiry and 37 percent would still want to talk to a human for a “more complex inquiry.” However, when it comes to those simple inquiries, 36 percent were more than happy to refer to the website or send an email, another nine percent used a company’s Smartphone app and five percent turned to social media.
Technology and People Working Hand-in-Hand
People may not be quite ready to turn all their problems over to technology, but there are plenty of ways that technology can be used to improve the customer experience. Beyond the very basic idea that having customer information in a computer database helps to find customer orders and answer questions, it increasingly makes sense to automate business functions like order fulfillment.
By increasing warehouse automation and using technology on the packing floor, you can keep up-to-the-minute inventories, increase picking and packing accuracy and ensure that item cartonization is as optimal as possible. Sure, your customers aren’t going to praise this behind-the-scenes effort directly, but they will remark at how quickly you got their order to them or restocked your brick-and-mortar store’s shelves.
Customers today are a very diverse bunch, simultaneously demanding fast in-store support and online service from anywhere at any time. The only way to achieve this is to partner with a 3rd party logistics firm that understands the demands of today’s supply chain and remember that your customers are still people — and might need some extra hand-holding in person from time to time.