This article was originally published on Technology.Info.
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Customer service has always been the bread and butter of an enterprise - a vital commodity that's easy to overlook but impossible to ignore once it becomes a problem. In 2014, businesses will look to revolutionise customer service by making the optimal experience as easy to achieve as clicking a button.
Amazon is one of the first companies to embrace this. Last year, it introduced the ‘Mayday’ button to its Kindle Fire tablets. Push the button, and you're immediately launched into a live session with someone from the Amazon helpdesk who knows all about the device and its intricacies. This is certainly a different tact from a company whose telephone number is shrouded in mystery, even on its own website, and who famously once said that ‘the best service is no service’.
Sony also has adopted something similar, using a button helpfully labelled ‘ASSIST’ in its VAIO line of computers. This takes users to a webpage designed for their specific model. Industry analysts expect to see the arrival of more 'SOS’ buttons in consumer products being released this year.
The form this service takes will depend on the company, the customer and the product, however, it does signify a move towards allowing customers easy access to information, whether on their own or with a real, live person on the other end of the line, be it via IM, video messaging or more traditional channels like phone and email.
Recently, many companies have moved away from live service, believing it to be too expensive. Customer service phone numbers that started out at the top of a webpage gradually worked their way to the bottom, and in many instances have disappeared entirely.
Unfortunately, companies taking this approach were practicing a false economy. Properly-serviced customers are not only happier customers; they are also more willing to open their wallets. Numerous studies of websites that offer ‘live chat’ services to their customers as part of the check-out process show that average purchases from these experiences are as much as four times what they are for customers who check out on their own.
Predictably, by providing poor customer service, you're leaving a lot of money on the table. The imaginary line between a support call and a sales call has in many instances disappeared.
It is now time for customer-service compromise – instead of abandoning one approach in favour of another, why not offer a blend of services that meet the customers’ specific needs? The ultimate customer experience is the one that seamlessly integrates self-service with unassisted self-service and live customer service options, all with the click of a button.
By allowing customers a wealth of options, it empowers them to gain better access to information by finding more consistent and relevant answers, no matter which channel they use.
In the past, a customer emailing in a question might be told something different than a customer talking with a live agent. With so many different communication channels, companies had a hard time keeping everyone on the same page.
Businesses no longer need to worry about customers getting different answers, or about the fluctuating quality of the support, depending on the characteristics of each channel. Knowledge, and easy access to it, is increasingly being viewed as a strategic business imperative. Crowd-sourcing knowledge to establish a single source of truth allows companies to scale their customer service initiatives across devices (web, mobile, tablet) and channels (voice, email, chat, social).
Customer service hasn't always kept up with product development. Fortunately, 2014 is looking like the year where technological developments can maintain pace with an enterprise’s customer service ambitions, and when getting help becomes as easy as pressing a button.
Nikhil Govindarajis vice president of products at Moxie Software. With15 years of experience in CRM, enterprise collaboration and multi-channel contact centres, he is an expert in customer experience.