As I graduate my youngest from High School and get ready to send her off to College, I think back about my college years. Not just about the freedom and fun that I had (that actually scares me a bit), but about my major in Interdepartmental Speech Communications. We studied the ways to effectively communicate with others. Back then, before the era of Cell Phones and Google searches, we found information by reading print, calling on the phone, or stepping foot into the store and asking for help. Communication was not only about speaking, but also about listening and watching for non-verbal cues.
Today, we have so many other forms of communications available to us. The question most businesses should be asking is, “Are we creating the best customer experience by making the most of the technology trends that are available?”
Did you know that most millennials will not answer the phone unless they recognize the number? Even then, they often will send you a text “Hey what’s up?” instead of answering. Did you know that most consumers are not going to your website to find your phone number or email address to communicate with you? In fact, many would also prefer not to do the live chat to explain their problem and get service. They are in search of quick answers to their questions and many would prefer to be immersed in some form of how-to video. Forbes Magazine also sites that “self-service customer support continues to rise in popularity. By the way, how-to type videos not only offer answers to questions but also showcase how to properly use a company’s products. This video-based support doubles as a marketing technique. Yes, customer service is the new marketing!”
Telecommunications is becoming so much more than just offering you phone lines and fast internet access. This industry is evolving into working with businesses to make sure they have the right tools in place to effectively and efficiently communicate by all possible means with their customer.
Here are just a few forms of communications to think about:
- IVR (Interactive Voice Response) – a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through voice and a keypad. Have you received those quick surveys at the end of a call or had a call back from an automated voice asking for you to take a quick survey? The ability to capture and rate your customers experience right after it happened vs sending a survey in the mail and hoping they will take the time to send it back. IVR can also be used for those automated messages out to your customers. Think about school closings or reminders for upcoming appointments.
- Text Messages. I just received one from my Vet clinic stating that they miss my dog and it is time to schedule an appointment. How cute and personal is that? Does your dental office, eye clinic, or vet ask you if you would like a text, phone or email reminder sent out to you?
- Live Chat. Are you using live chat on your website? There is a reason someone visited to your website. Wouldn’t you like to be able to answer the questions or information that brought them to the site in the first place?
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) is being used to automate most customer service responses. It is listening or looking for key words or phrases to get the customer the support they need. Does this meant that AI will replace the customer service representative in your company? Not by any means. In fact, it could assist the customer service rep in providing the answers they need by listening in on the conversations. One of our vendor partners has developed a way through AI to capture data from your customers and rate them real-time on their customer satisfaction level. Wouldn’t you like to know when your customers are happy or dissatisfied with your service or products, so you can address it real-time? Or what if you could reach out to them when you know they are most satisfied with your products or services?
- The ability to pull people together, whether internal or external, to work together on a project or solution. Most often we think of audio conferencing as a means of pulling people in on a call. But today collaboration is also about video conferencing, screen sharing, and even live chat/instant messaging to communicate.
- Using proximity-based apps to enhance customer shopping. I love when I walk into a local retailer and a notice pops up with the “Deal of the Day”. Who doesn’t love the ability to scan as you go for convenience shopping and skip the long checkout lines? Or, how about ordering online and having it ready for you to either pick-up or have it delivered to your door. Isn’t it almost scary how they track your every move and know when you are close by to their store and alert you to sales, products or services you may be interested in?
Yes, technology is changing the way we communicate with our customers. And, it is changing the way we approach telecommunication services for our customers. It is no longer just about the best price for long distance or about the ability to receive voicemail to email. It is about embracing the customer service experience and finding ways to use communication tools available to work for your business. So, if you’ve not thought about any of this, now is the time. We’d love to help your business with all your communication needs.
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