Using Technology to Improve Customer Service

An image of a shopping cart on a laptop screen, and credit cards on the table

Customer service is more than just necessary. You may say that it is one of the cornerstones of a business, whether it be a large corporation or a small or mid-sized business. A business’s success and continuity depend on how efficiently it interacts with its customers. The quality of service will either enhance or degrade a customer’s loyalty to your brand and business.

With the state of the economy in our challenging environment, customers have more choices than ever. Businesses gain a competitive advantage when they respond promptly to the questions, complaints, orders, requests, or anything else that their customers need to be addressed. That is why it is important to understand that the use of new technology can help you anticipate customers’ demands and tailor business processes to serve them better and faster. These activities, in turn, will ultimately improve the efficiency of your business, while at the same time significantly reduce operational costs and improve its security.

A good way to start is to set a manual or paper-driven process as an example. A lot of companies, which lack real IT leadership, still follow this procedure. Here’s a scenario of such a process, and how automation can help this situation:

  • A customer sends you an email with an order in it. Depending on the business it might even be via social media or other avenues.
  • You (or someone else in the business) reads the email and manually adds the information to a spreadsheet.
  • You send the spreadsheet to a decision-maker who will review the information in it. You may even check the customer’s payment and credit history.
  • Once the order is approved, another email is sent to a vendor.
  • The accounting department records it in the accounts payable system.
  • A confirmation email is sent to the customer.
  • The product (the customer’s order) arrives, and the shipping department sends the packing slip or bill of lading to the customer service department. If you have a services business the completion of the order might be the delivery of a simple email and awaiting confirmation of receipt.
  • Someone from the customer service department receives the completion notification, packing slip or lading bill and reads it. Using the spreadsheet, they find the customer, whom the product was ordered for, and emails the customer with an update.
  • The packing slip or lading bill is sent to the accounting department, who then records it as a payable.

As you will notice in this scenario, there are multiple steps involved with a lot of people in it. In business, the saying “time is money” still applies –  not just for the company, but also for the customers.

This is where automation enters the scene. Automated customer service will give your business an added value for your customer and help you maintain your competitive edge.

A customer service automation (or a customer support automation) is a purpose-built process that aims to minimize or eliminate the need for human involvement when providing service to a customer’s requests, orders, etc. The implementation of new technology can help through automation and rule-based decision making. Let’s see how the same scenario would look like with automation:

  • A customer uses your mobile app or a web portal to order a new product. Citing that the customer has placed an order before, the system knows the products they usually order and quickly displays the choices to them.
  • The system receives the new order and records it.
  • The system applies business rules you control, which dictates whether your order request can be approved, and the vendor (or the internal build team) is notified.
  • An accounts receivable record is entered.
  • The customer service and the department managers are notified. Using your new company portal, they can check every aspect of the order and business from a perspective that involves their job function.

Automated processes bring many benefits to businesses and their customers:

  • It saves time for the customers.
  • It saves time for the business by minimizing or eliminating manual processes.
  • It helps your business to get back on track quickly in case of an absence of key personnel.
  • It has made managing, sharing, and analyzing data easier.
  • It provides convenience and personalized transaction experience for the customers.
  • It saves operational costs.
  • It enhances capacity, security, and reliability.

No matter what type of business you are being it working with physical products or delivering services, customer service is critical and today’s modern technologies can significantly impact and improve your business.