What is the customer service industry focused on today? In the past decade – maybe even just the last half a decade – the industry has changed dramatically, but the core focus remains the pursuit of an improved customer experience.
The changes have come from many different angles, but primarily there have been two big changes that have changed the expectation of customers;
- The mobile Internet. Since the launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007 there has been an enormous growth in the use of Internet on mobile devices. Just a decade ago this was still unusual – you had to go home and start using a PC to access the Internet. Now you can pull out a phone and use Google or a price comparison service while out shopping.
- Social media. The ability for every customer to also be a publisher and reviewer, using blogs or social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, has changed the way many brands interact with their customers. Now any customer can be the reviewer that makes an enormous difference to future sales.
The combination of these two changes in the way people communicate means that customer service is no longer about waiting for customers to get in touch with questions or complaints after a sale is made. The customer service team today has to be offering advice before a product is bought, checking review forums for accuracy, scanning discussions on social media and engaging with customers even if you cannot be entirely certain that they have bought your products.
Customer service today is more complex and sophisticated than ever. Customers are comfortable hopping across at least six different channels now and often their comments about your product are not directed at your official channels – you just have to find the comments and to engage in the places where customers are having their own discussion.
Wrapping all this together and focusing on the holistic experience a customer has is the best way to approach customer service today. How do they know about your products, how can they get information about them, how can they purchase your products, and how can they get support afterwards? A successful service strategy needs to consider all of these aspects today and to make the effort required for interaction with the brand as low as possible.
Have you seen any great examples of customer experience that move beyond the traditional customer service contact centre model? Leave a note on the blog or get in touch via my LinkedIn here.
Photo by Nobuyuki Hayashi licensed under Creative Commons