Using Technology to Restore the Human Touch in Customer Service
Robert C. Johnson, CEO TeamSupport
People who are seeking customer service and the companies that provide support have a common objective: to resolve the customer’s issue as quickly as possible. But while the goal has remained the same over the years, the methods of reaching it have evolved considerably.
In the past, a phone conversation between a customer and a support agent was considered by many to be the most effective means of resolving an issue. But then companies began using tools like automated voice response menus to deflect and redirect customer calls, in effect building a barrier between the customer and the support agent.
The change is rooted in a desire to provide better service. In today’s highly competitive business environment, the ability to deliver an excellent customer experience is quickly becoming the key differentiator. Customers are famously impatient with getting the runaround on an automated menu, and the dissatisfaction is especially acute with B2B customers, who deal with more complex issues.
In addition to the desire to relieve customer frustration, companies are also changing their approach to support in response to a fundamental change in the way consumers buy products and seek support. Thanks to the Internet, today’s customers are more educated about products than ever before, and prior to contacting a support agent, they’re likely to search for an answer to their questions online.
Self-service options are therefore a must for customers who seek their own answers. Companies that recognize the shift in consumer preferences can find a platform that allows them to effectively deploy resources like FAQs and a comprehensive knowledge base that provides access to answers anytime, anywhere. Many companies also use support platforms to deliver user forums and customer portals.
By reducing agent support requests, self-service options save money while giving customers fast access to the answers they need. A self-service approach also frees up customer service agents by eliminating support requests for simple issues to enable agents to focus on more complex problems. This can result in higher levels of customer satisfaction as well as agent retention. In addition to self-service options, companies often use email and chat support to resolve issues.
As customer support has evolved over the past few decades, the overall trend has been to substitute technology solutions for human interactions. It makes sense from a business standpoint since it is expensive to provide agent support, and it is driven in part by customer preferences for self-service options as well. But there’s a downside to this trend: The lack of human interaction makes it more difficult to develop person-to-person relationships.
Just as technology has played a role in distancing customers from the companies that provide support, it is now bringing customer support full circle to focus on human centered contact again. Companies are finding new ways to use video technology to combine the advantages of technical solutions and face-to-face support. Platforms that enable customers and support agents to embed narrated screen recordings and short videos into trouble tickets are one example.
Using this technique, customers and agents avoid the drawn-out process of providing a written description of a problem and communicating via multiple emails or chats. Instead they demonstrate the issue on video, either using a camera pointed at a product or recording clips of on-screen action. Technology facilitates the interaction, but there’s a genuine exchange between two human beings. It’s the best of both worlds.
Similarly, webcam recordings can be used to send a more personalized message to a customer, or to provide a “real life” response to a question or concern. Giving a face to the customer support agent provides a level of humanity that a basic email or chat simply cannot match.
Through customer support applications like video and screen recordings, companies are now able to use technology to make a human connection. Businesses that find a platform that supports self-service options while expanding the human touch through collaboration and technology-facilitated interactions will be ahead of the curve as customer service evolves.