What is the Role of Technology in Customer Service?

In a nutshell, the role that technology plays in customer service is that it can help you better deliver on your customers’ needs and expectations: basically, create outcomes that your customers care about. 

After all, the relationship between technology and customer service isn’t new and is constantly evolving. There seems to be a new tech trend on the horizon every time you turn your head (who hasn’t had at least one conversation about AI in the last few months?)

But adopting any kind of tech solution isn’t going to cut it. You need to adopt technology in a strategic way that matches what your customers are looking for out of your business’s customer service. 

Here, we’re going to help you understand how you can achieve that kind of strategic adoption. We’ll cover how technology has evolved customer service over time, what forms of tech customers care about the most, and how you can create a better, technology-led customer service function.

Suggested reading: Discover other important strategies for growing your customer service with our eBook: A New Approach to Customer Service

How does technology improve customer service?

Before we get into how technology has helped improve customer service efficiency, let’s quickly summarise the key benefits it brings.

  • Delivers faster communication: The digital capabilities of certain tech features allow conversations to start and get resolved a lot faster, allowing for customers to get convenient, speedy service. Otherwise, you risk being one of the 75% of businesses that have lost customers due to wait-related issues.1
  • Provides more direct results: Self-service options that have intuitive automation features enable customers to get the answers they need faster and at a more convenient pace.
  • Reduces costs: Automation doesn’t just save time. When you speed up customer transactions, you also reduce costs in resources and any overhead. Automation also allows customer service reps to work smarter and quicker.
  • Improves customer outcomes: Using tools to gain visibility over your customers’ buying habits and preferences can help you make better-informed decisions on your customer service, leading to greater outcomes for your buyers and greater customer retention.

How technology has been used for front-line automation

A major function that technology covers for customer service is automating standard processes between customer service agents and their customers. Effectively saving time and resources for businesses and helping customers get answers to common queries and problems faster.

Critical automation tools include: 

Live chat via texting or video

This includes automated ticketing and ways to collect customer data and analytics. Live chat is an informal, yet effective, way to pair up qualified service reps with customers who need information or assistance quickly.

Chatbots (if done right)

If programmed correctly, a chatbot can be a huge time saver for the customer and call centre. However, do it wrong and you end up with exchanges like this:

Chatbot: Hello, and thanks for visiting our website. My name is Gwen. How can I help you today?

Customer: I need information about your recent sales promotion and free returns policy.

Chatbot: We’re sorry to hear that you have to return your purchase. What was the problem?

Customer: No, I don’t need to return anything. I just need to know about the sale you advertised and if I can return the product if I don’t like it.

Chatbot: It appears that your problem might be resolved if we can track the shipping status of your order. Please enter your order number, date of purchase, and our invoice serial.

Customer: (disconnects and dials help desk)

If you invest in a chatbot, don’t go for a budget choice. Equally, it can be useful to have a live chat option that sits next to the chatbot function. 

Interactive voice response (IVR) menus

IVR can also help direct customers to the right person. However, again, you need to be careful on how exactly you apply this.

The typical first instruction on an IVR is “Please say what you are calling about”, with the end goal being that a customer will respond with something like, “I want information on your latest sales.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t often as straightforward for businesses that rely on IVR menus. 98% of customers end up skipping that part of the process by directly requesting a representative to speak to.2 So remember that there are some conversations that customers would rather have with an actual person than a machine.

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What technology do customers prefer?

The channels you use to deliver customer service are also important to keep in mind. The most popular channels for customers are as follows:

1. Phone support

59% of customers prefer talking to an actual agent on the phone to help with answering questions or solving problems. Automation runs in the background when the call centre rep is stationed at a computer screen, quickly accessing answers and information.

2. Email

57% of customers want to send emails. For routine business, email is the automated communication of choice for many customers. Email provides space for the customer to go into detail. It also gives the business time to research customer support issues. Email can be a great tool to familiarise the customer with a wider array of products and services.

3. Live chat

42% of customers use online chat or live support to get in touch with businesses. This channel brings customers the advantage of immediacy and quick access to call centre helpers.

4. Social media

21% of customers would rely on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms as a preferred method of reaching a product or service provider. Issues of privacy and a lack of traditional customer service features keep most customers from using social media as a vehicle for customer support.

5. Online support portals

18% of customers think support portals meet their needs. Support portals typically are stocked with pages covering frequently asked questions, product use instructions, return policies, etc. The portals can act as a barrier for live chat to encourage self-help and cope with customer service demand.3

Pro tip: These numbers aren’t the same across different demographics. For example, Gen Zers are 1.6 times more likely to prefer using digital channels than Boomers. But overall, all of your customers are going to want a healthy amount of flexibility and options for interacting with your customer service.

Why technology should assist (not replace) your agents

Technology opens the door to more effective communication, but it should never stand in the way of connecting customers with a live representative. While it can be a great time-saver and help solve minor problems, you should always give customers the option to connect to agents for a more personable experience.

One of the most powerful tools that technology offers is collecting information which can then be funnelled to customer service agents — allowing them to personalise customer experiences and resolve complex problems quickly. However, you need to take care when executing this. 

  • 76% of customers expect personalisation out of their customer service.
  • 75% of customers prefer hearing from a real, human voice.4 

It is important to deliver a seamless experience between channels and use technology to enrich customer experience and make their communication with representatives more efficient. This way, you will be able to connect customers to the right agents quickly — driving better outcomes at a reduced cost. 

managing customer service costs

How Odondo can help you always deliver better customer service

Technology is no doubt valuable to any customer service function. And if you’re not already offering some (if not all) of the features we’ve just covered, then you definitely should consider doing so.

But a digital approach alone isn’t going to help you get better customer service outcomes. At the end of the day, your buyers want to be given a comprehensive, personalised solution to their problems. Almost three out of five customers call out great customer service as important to how committed they feel towards a brand.5

The only way to totally see that through is by making sure your customer service is made up of highly skilled, expertly trained agents.

Connecting with those agents doesn’t have to be a drain on costs or resources. With an outsourced customer support service provider like us at Odondo, we can match you with representatives who have the expertise needed to understand your business and – most importantly – understand your customers. Our pay-as-you-go model also guarantees that you’re never over or underspending your budget and are always scaled to demand.

If you want to find out how we at Odondo can help you reap the benefits of better customer service today, just get a quote

Odondo has been recognised by DesignRush as one of their Top Call Center Companies

1  TimeTrade 

2  What Customers Want And Expect 

3  State of the Connected Customer 

4  31 customer service statistics you need to know 

5  Why Customer Service is Important: 16 Data-Backed Facts to Know 

Bobby Devins

Bobby spent 11 years as an Investment Banker before going on to co-found his own e-commerce start-up, where Customer Service was one of the core functions that fell under his remit.

He has spent the past 9 years in and around the start-up space, most recently co-founding Odondo with the aim of reimagining the delivery of Customer Service. Bobby has pursued a very traditional career path for someone who ultimately aspires to be a hardcore gangsta rapper.

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