Just in the past thirty years, technology has made astronomical progress. It has impacted everyday human life in ways undreamed of even fifty years ago. One of the biggest ways that technology has changed society is how people interact with each other.
Customer service continues to evolve with technology. Companies are experimenting with ways to incorporate technology into their customer service strategies. And as technology has continued to become an increasingly integral part of our lives and social structure, there has been significant speculation as to how exactly technology will fit into customer service. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has experienced exponential growth and has many wondering if AI customer service bots will one day replace the customer service professional.
Technology can never fully replace human interaction. But it still has significant impact on the way we interact with each other and the world around us. While technology itself may be morally neutral, it can be used in ways that harm or improve our experience. When companies employ technology for technology’s sake, they run the risk of harming the customer experience instead of enhancing it. When looking at how technology impacts the customer experience, there are both pros and cons. Knowing some of the potential pitfalls and benefits can help you develop a strategy to make sure you’re using technology properly to enhance your customer service.
Customer Service & Technology: Cons
One of the biggest complaints from consumers about technology and customer service is how technology can often be inefficient and impersonal.
Most companies now have automated at least some of their customer service interactions. Extensive phone trees and chat bots are just two examples of automated customers service interactions - and they are the culprits of most of the complaints about technology used for customer service.
Many customers feel frustrated at automated interactions because the technology may not properly register what the customer is saying, forcing the customer to repeat themselves over and over, often only to end up being transferred to a live customer service representative anyway.
Extensive frustrations such as these sour a customer’s experience with the company. Wasting time trying and failing to have their frustration or request be understood often makes customers feel undervalued and ignored.
Customer Service & Technology: Pros
There are also plenty of ways that technology improves customer service. When used correctly, many technological developments help facilitate a positive customer experience and can help companies better understand and assist customer needs. Improved tech can help customers be self-sufficient as well as making sure that contacting customer service representatives is easy and intuitive.
Companies like Lyft and Netflix use technology to empower their customers and let customers navigate their own experience. Customers navigate their accounts on the app and are able to operate the companies’ products without much outside assistance. This is a great example of how technology can improve a customer’s experience by letting them act independently. Incorporating technology to make your customers’ experiences seamless and convenient is a great way to improve their experience.
Another way that technology makes customers service better is that it opens up more channels for customers to contact support. Many brands use social media as customer service and have found that those platforms have increased customer engagement and improved customer experience. Using technologies such as social media have helped improve the ways that customers can contact a company. Advancements in all forms of communication can lead to increased customer experience.
Improvements in communication channels such as email, phones, instant messaging, etc., all can contribute to making the customer service industry better - not only for customers, but also for customer service employees. The difference between whether or not technology improves or worsens customer experience is often in how it’s used.
How to Make Sure You Use Technology to Improve Customer Experience
Technology on its own is neutral. An instant messaging system on its own won’t affect a customer’s experience - but how it’s used will. How technology is used determines if it hurts or helps your customer service. As new tech advancements are developed, it can be difficult to know if that piece of technology is a right fit for your company and customers. Here are some questions you can ask to make sure you’re using technology to help your customers’ experience:
- Is this technology helping to solve a specific problem? It can be tempting to implement a new technology for the sake of trying something new. But be cautious when introducing new tech to your customer service experience - make sure that it’s solving an existing problem. Do your research and see if other companies have used it and found any drawbacks or negative effects.
- How will my customers interact with this tech? Check out the customer side of any new tech you’re thinking about incorporating. Find out which companies already use the tech and seek out customer reviews. Are there common problems that you can avoid? It’s also a good idea to test out the system from a customer perspective and run tests. See what your customers will see and make note of any issues and see if you can find solutions to those issues.
- Does this technology allow me to gather insightful feedback? Make sure that any new tech you’re considering has ways to capture and give you insightful data. Make sure that any issues that arise can be fixed. It’s also important even with simpler technologies such as apps and websites that your customers can reach you and offer feedback or report issues. Making sure there are processes to detect and fix issues will go a long way in making sure that you can use the technology in a way that will enhance your business function.
- Will this improve efficiency and simplify processes? Technology may claim that it’s solving a problem, but sometimes it solves one problem but creates ten more. Or it can sometimes complicate existing procedures and ultimately complicate your customer service, leading to frustrated customers and employees.
- Does this technology improve communication? Effective communication is and always has been a foundational component to successful business. Your employees should be able to effectively communicate with each other and with customers. Likewise, customers should feel that they can easily contact your company if they need to. When considering adding new technology to your company, make sure it enhances communication.
Tech impacts customer service. We rely more every day on different kinds of technology. How we use it determines whether or not tech improves or hinders our lives. This is especially true in customer service. While some tech may greatly improve or diminish the customer service experience, nothing will ever replace the human touch.