There can be no doubt that the digital era has changed the way businesses interact, engage, and advertise with their customers. However, the one part of the customer process that has been neglected during the advent of the “online” era is customer service.
Customers demand more these days in the way of customer support than ever before but the more traditional customer service approaches are not adequate to fulfill their present-day needs.
They want personalized, simple, real-time, intuitive, and multiple-channel services!
That’s not too much to ask for, is it?
This may have been an impossibility 10 years ago, but with a new customer service approach called, Service 4.0, the ability to keep up with these new customer demands are now available to brands who do business online.
Service 4.0 uses present-day technology to enhance digital customer interactions in a more “humanly” way. There are exactly 9 specific present-day technologies that makes all this possible. They include the following:
Big Data and Analytics
The ability to collect and analyze data on a massive scale through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine-learning has now made it possible to create higher levels of customer insights and so tailor specific pathways and preferences for the customer, which automatically increases customer satisfaction.
You only need to look to Amazon, which has the largest customer database of any company doing business online, to see what big data can do for your online presence. Their massive data has given them the ability to rank high above any other digital store when it comes to customer satisfaction because they can automatically display what their customer wants and needs before they even know it themselves.
Cloud computing is basically a delivery method that allows users to access what they need at the exact moment they want it through a cloud-based service provider.
This is highly relevant for customers as they do not have to wait for someone to give them the answer or the information they are requesting because with one simple “click” they can access whatever they need for themselves, by themselves.
Cloud computing puts customer service in the customer’s hands – literally!
Internet of Things (IoT) / Ubiquitous Connectivity
With IoT technology, a single device makes it easier for customers to control various devices within their home. Such devices and technology can also keep a continuous connection between a business and a customer, no matter where they are, through an online connection.
Some examples of such IoT and ubiquitous devices include the following:
- Fitness Trackers
- Smart thermostats
- Smart monitors
- Smart home
- Smart cities
- Connected cars
Similar to IoT devices, the “smart” devices being mentioned here can include some of the above-mentioned devices but more specifically refer to specific apps and cloud-supporting technology that keeps a business and its customers connected at all times.
For the most part, such devices stay connected to different networks via the following wireless protocols:
- 3G and 4G
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
This technology cuts down the time it takes to process customer requests through specific rule-based software.
RPA can manipulate data, process transactions and provide automatic responses (think of chatbots) depending on the set of rules that have been programmed into it.
RPA chatbots have been quite helpful for many businesses when it comes to customer service as of late. The following stats further illustrates just how popular they have become among American adults according to a 2018 research project performed by SurveyMonkey Audience.
- 15% of American adults say they have used a chatbot in one form or another during 2018.
- 37% of American Adults say they would use a chatbot in an emergency situation.
- 64% of American adults proclaim that a chatbot’s ability to provide 24-hour service is its best feature.
Virtualization allows businesses to reduce hardware costs, increase disaster recovery, use less energy, and most importantly for their customers, decrease customer service response time by running multiple virtual machines on a single device.
Simply stated, it streamlines an organization’s customer database for easier management and deployment.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR is changing the way customers interact with businesses. From being able to try out a product in a virtual environment before purchasing to interacting with a live customer support agent in the same environment for troubleshooting issues, AR is slowly making phone calls unnecessary for both selling and customer support.
The following customer service benefits can be derived through the use of AR technology:
- Faster issue resolution
- Increased internal collaboration
- Clearer communication between customer and customer support
The ability to act more naturally with virtual agents (VAs) through bionic computing capabilities is a great boon for businesses who currently use or plan on using digital devices to interact with their customers more frequently.
By allowing live agents to predict answers before customers have even thought of the question based on human thought simulation, cognitive computing streamlines the entire virtual assistance process and provides better and faster service for a business’s customers.
Implementing Service 4.0
With roughly 75% of all businesses interactions with their customers coming from some form of customer service request, it is important for any business looking to sustain a competitive advantage to start incorporating one or more of the above Service 4.0 technologies into their customer support systems.
However, the process will not be easy. It will require a shift from more traditional customer support methods and strategies to more digitally-advanced customer support systems. This will not only require training current employees but hiring new ones who have a thorough knowledge of the 9-point Service 4.0 systems and technologies just listed.
Each business will have to decide how slowly or quickly they wish to implement this new customer service approach, as well as how much technology they need and can actually afford to gain a sustainable advantage over their competition.
Hopefully, these technological breakthroughs advancing how businesses’ interact and help their customers outlined in this article will give you some ideas on how you can improve the way you engage, interact, and assist your customers during the holidays and well into next year.
Assess which strategies, methods, and technologies you can implement now and plan to invest some more time, money, and effort in the future for the ones you can’t but need to keep your customers happy and returning back for more products, services, and customer support.
Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today’s business and marketing. When she’s not being all serious and busy, she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, and delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Tweet her @JazzyWilliams88.