Customer Service Spotlight 5 – The Future Of Customer Service

Written by on July 9, 2012

Throughout the spotlight series so far, we spoke about what customer support really means, why you should have the right mix of policy and personality in your help desk, and how you can turn your service from a fire-drill into the perfect customer experience.

As a fitting conclusion, in this last post of the series, we look towards the future, and how you can gear up your team for tomorrow’s support issues, today.

In a time of disruption and innovation, when technologies are being rendered obsolete in a matter of months, the way customers perceive and demand support has undergone a revolutionary change.

In a changing consumer landscape, with so many different ways of identifying, adopting, buying and engaging with a business, just showcasing your products or services are no longer sufficient. Your customers are demanding an experience.

With customers influencing each other in real-time thanks to social media, every support touch-point today is a chance to step up and give customers an experience that wows them. After all, if the internet has disrupted the way even the grand-daddies of businesses like publishing and entertainment, think about customer support.

Customer support is now evolving faster than ever before. The bad news is, businesses stuck on their old school paradigm of waiting for customers to complain are going to wake up to an apocalypse pretty soon.

The good news is, if you are geared up and ready, here is your chance to get proactive and start giving customers the support experience they will love. Here are 4 ways you can get ready for tomorrow, today:

1. Take your support everywhere your customers go

Don’t be shy, get out there. Whether you like it or not, social is here to stay. Your customers are already talking about you, and hiding your head under the sand is not going to make it go away. Your customers are going to talk more, tweet more, like more and share more information. Being there and showing that you care will be the difference between turning into a bankrupt store offering discounts and becoming the brand that customers love and just can’t stop talking about.

2. Step up, go beyond and get proactive

Love it or hate it, but IKEA have got at least one thing right – the perfect self service experience. It takes a lot for your customers to directly get in touch with you. The customers of tomorrow want to try and ‘do it’ themselves before asking you for help. That means the self-service experience you offer them must account for what customers might want and when, and make sure you have the resources to deliver. And finally, if they have to get in touch with you, make it easy and painless. Having 75 ‘necessary’ fields and 3 homegrown captchas in your ticket form really doesn’t help.

3. Great service is not an option. It is the norm.

Right from automobiles to software, the products and services you offer to your customers are increasingly getting commoditized. Successful businesses today, like Zappos, Apple and Harley Davidson have shown that the brand and its USP lie in the experience that the business is able to offer. As customers learn and keep going back to businesses that are able to differentiate themselves with the support experience, great service will no longer be the exception. In fact, it will be the norm.

4. The Customer is your Hero

Today, customers are contributing to businesses in unbelievable ways. There are brand evangelists who volunteer to step in, help and guide your other customers. Then there are the viral influencers who love talking about you and spreading the word. Even in B2B settings, customers are playing a critical role by supporting others, spreading the word and even pre-selling your brand to their other business contacts and friends. Your job is to encourage them, nurture them and give them more and more reasons to continue to do what they are doing. They’ll take care of the rest.

As the means to share and consume information evolves, so too does the customer’s perception of quality and service.

Here’s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4 of this Spotlight series. Watch this space for the next one.

In this post, we just shared a few paradigm shifts in the status-quo of customer support. If you think we left some out, feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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