ClickReads: Digitizing Customer Service Without Losing the Human Touch
Editor’s Note: ClickReads is our weekly series of the top technology and business stories relevant to the field service industry. Check back weekly for the newest installment, or look for the #ClickReads hashtag on Twitter.
Customer service should be a priority with any business. And this holds especially true for field service. A recent Aberdeen report found that three-fourths of Best-in-Class service organizations use customer feedback to measure employee and service performance. These top companies know that fast and efficient service means loyal repeat customers.
Field technicians should always leave a site with the job completed and the customer happy. And today’s technology makes customer service easier to manage and achieve. For instance, there are now multiple platforms for customer service, including websites, messenger, mobile apps, and social media. And we have chatbots to manage call centers so customers don’t need to be put on hold.
But with this technology we must remember that humans are equally important to customer service. In fact, a study found that 79% of consumers prefer the human touch over digital customer service channels. Most want access to an online account, but rely on human interaction as an option. And as customer service requests become complex, this reliance increases.
To truly satisfy the customer, businesses need to find a balance between demands for digital and human customer service. Let’s learn from three companies who found a way to give customers the best of both worlds.
Vonage: Personalization and Choice of Platforms
Even without a human involved, it’s still possible to add a personal touch to digital customer service. Vonage Chief Executive Officer Alan Masarek believes digital customer service should always be personalized. He says businesses should take advantage of caller ID to personalize a conversation with a digital assistant. The digital assistant should address the customer by their name. And if they speak to a return customer they should provide updates about their service.
Vonage also streamlines customer service across platforms. This way users can use their choice of channel to communicate with the company. Older customers might still prefer phone communication, while younger customers are more comfortable using digital methods.
Per Aberdeen, Best-in-Class field service organizations create communication strategies to interact with customers via their preferred channel. Let customers contact you in the way that’s most comfortable for them. That way they’re happy with the service before it even begins.
Amazon: DIY and fast customer support
Some customers have a preferred method of customer support, while others prefer avoiding a third party altogether. Sometimes it’s just easier (and faster) to do things yourself. And the Internet makes this possible.
Amazon has become a master of do it yourself (DIY) service. It’s entire website is DIY, as customers both shop and self-checkout. It also has a help center, FAQ section, and community forum so customers can find answers to their questions without having to call someone.
One reason customers prefer speaking to a human over digital service is because they believe most online services are too slow and lack human intuition. But Amazon’s help center is easy to navigate and helps customers find the answers to common questions without having to go through customer service.
And when someone does need additional customer support, Amazon excels at making personal interactions easy. You’ve probably experienced a bad customer service call at some point. Between multiple call transfers and being put on hold, you probably aren’t happy with the representative when you finally get through.
Amazon allows customers to reach a real person 24/7, and rarely puts customers on hold. Amazon even has a free customer service called “Mayday” for its Kindle Fire devices. If you’re having trouble with your device you can hit the Mayday button and connect instantly via video with a tech advisor. Your customers would be pleased if they could get in touch with a tech this easily. They can fix problems themselves without scheduling another service appointment.
Uber: On-demand service, visibility, and reliability
Aberdeen found the top reasons customers were dissatisfied with their field service providers included long waiting times for appointments, late arrivals, and inflexible appointment availability.
The ride-hailing app Uber avoids these problems with real-time booking, on-demand service, and full visibility to their customers. If your car breaks down and you need a ride to work, you can count on an Uber driver to pick you up in minutes. And Uber provides full visibility of the driver, including ETA and GPS location so you know where the driver is at all times. You know when they will arrive, and you don’t have to worry about them being late.
Moreover, customers can rely on Uber because it’s are quick and visible. The app even provides driver profiles with a photo, rating, and contact details so you know who is picking you up. And you have the option to contact them personally if something comes up.
Field service organizations could benefit from “uberizing” their service too. For instance, the customer wouldn’t have to sit around at home all day waiting for someone to install their new fridge. They could track the field tech in real-time with an app, and know exactly when they will arrive. The customer would probably rather spend that wait time doing something more enjoyable or productive.
Digitization makes field service and customer service easier to manage. But when you go digital, don’t lose the human touch if you want to keep your customers happy.
If you want to read more about digital customer service, follow the links below: