Customer Service Week and The Future of Work: Where Are We Headed?
This week marks the 25th annual Customer Service Week, a nationally recognized event that celebrates the importance of customer service and the people who are associated with this increasingly significant business element. This blog celebrates the technology that allows these people to do an exceptional job – and where and how it should be leveraged for the ultimate experience – both for companies and customers.
Technology is changing everything – from how we live, to how we learn, how we work and how we communicate. There’s almost nothing that technology hasn’t touched in some way, and it’s converging in both our personal and professional lives. As we’ve discussed before, technology offers an opportunity to inject automation and increase efficiency, and organizations worldwide are embracing digitization and the boosted productivity resulting from new and improved processes. At our last B2B IT Forum, our panelists discussed the impact innovation is having on customer experience – with a strong focus on the end-customer. But another focal point is the impact innovation is having on the ‘future of work’, which will simply be known as ‘work’ in the not so distant future. Below are a few areas where technology is already contributing to moving the needle in the enterprise and impacting those delivering service for customers.
The IT help desk
With the proliferation of the mobile workforce, the IT help desk faces more challenges than ever. Workers are doing their jobs from any and everywhere and the deskless workforce continues to account for 80 percent of the global workforce. Both of these groups require devices and applications that allow them to work in a productive and flexible, yet secure way. Companies need to keep up with the needs of their employees in order to offer a superior employee experience, equally as important as customer experience. As a result, resources that have historically been found at the physical office are now being shifted to cloud software and used by companies. It’s no longer uncommon for employees to have enterprise-type applications at their fingertips, such as Slack or Box. With the proliferation of shadow IT, many companies are deploying centralized device management to avoid overburdening IT departments, especially as the number of devices scales into the hundreds, or even thousands. The goal: to provide consistency and visibility into devices and ensure efficiencies, whether they are on premise or at remote locations – and ultimately optimize the limited resources that are common within the IT help desk.
With that said, long gone are the days of opening a ticket at the help desk and waiting a week for service. Cloud and virtualization allows for IT to help organizations identify new technology to streamline operations, reduce costs and better meet the needs of end users.
Smart customer support
The ubiquity of the concept of excellent customer service and experience is not only useful for retaining customers – as mentioned above, employee experience is at least as important considering that employees often make for the best brand ambassadors. This means that arming customer service workers with the necessary tools to not just get their jobs done, but get them done correctly and efficiently, is table stakes for companies. Customer support is a black, white – and grey – area when it comes to experience. Since end-customers have preferences that differ, support options must differ as well – from bot to live service professionals.
Airlines are a good example of more complex, but necessary, customer support options. Beginning with booking a flight – either using a website, an app or a live person at the end of the line – technology must be used to ensure consistency regardless of channel (or risk losing customers). Customer service professionals must be privy to every detail of the online process and more, including pricing, seat selection and general information at their fingertips. Typically, issues routed to human service employees are more complex and they must be prepared to handle today’s customers and their issues. Companies that don’t set their reps up for success will see a sharp increase in employee frustration and customer atrophy.
The combination of technology and humans for support is ideal, but if bots are being used to route the call, is the bot experience quick? Does the bot have the ability to understand the caller? Respond and act on his or her need? Does it make it easy for a customer to reach a person if necessary? This is one example that can be applied to every aspect of airline service, notorious for its customer dis-service, and also offers an opportunity for change.
There are many areas of work that are impacted by technology; AI is used by human resources to expedite the process of wading through resumes; automated warehouses are boosting processes and offering new opportunities for workers; learning is being transformed by leveraging augmented and virtual reality in trainings and classrooms.
The technology used to address productivity at work typically stems from the need for enhanced customer experience – no matter the industry. The customer-centric economy in which we live demands technology to meet these needs, both on the front- and back-ends of the business, or the risk of failure is real. Across industries, specifically in enterprise-sized organizations, the promise of applying innovation in a smart and strategic manner is game-changing and can mean the difference between success and failure: a risk no organization should be brave enough to entertain.