Complex technologies are creating richer consumer experiences, but also great expectations. With the proliferation of smart computing and mobile devices, consumers have better control of their interactions with the companies with whom they choose to do business. While the connected home offers benefits to the consumer, it can also lead to complex technology issues that consumers aren’t equipped to handle on their own. For businesses, there is an opportunity to build a technology service business and provide support that helps solve complex issues and engage customers with their existing products, while also providing the opportunity to grow those relationships.
To be successful, technology businesses – retailers, OEMs and carriers – must solve consumer frustrations while still delivering an integrated customer experience across multiple services and sales channels. With very few exceptions, customer support still takes a “one-and-done” transactional approach that fails to capitalize on opportunities to get to know each customer and ultimately drive new revenue.
A recent Forrester report, “The Business Impact of Customer Experience, 2012 (requires registration),” shows that companies with higher customer experience scores tend to demonstrate and drive higher customer loyalty. With consumer technology needs outpacing and stressing traditional business models, business leaders must address the growing risk and opportunity for technology services to improve customer experience, reduce costs and grow the business. The tips below will help businesses across industries meet customer needs and address pain points in an on-demand and ever-connected society:
1) Implement the right services
Consider implementing proactive remote support services to complement reactive support. Alerting customers when service issues occur or maintenance is required can go a long way in building customer relationships and increasing revenue. Don’t wait for your customers to come to you when there’s a service inconsistency – let them know there is a problem, what it is, how it can be resolved (automated fixes or with customer’s help) and an estimated resolution time. Service issues are inevitable; the differentiator is how companies respond to them. Consider how proactive maintenance can improve your brand image and customer loyalty. By monitoring services and devices in connected homes, the relationship dynamics change by creating more direct, positive communication on an ongoing basis. Technology services can address business pain points and capture the emerging opportunity by delivering new sources of high margin revenue – through proactive support services.
2) Deliver an integrated end-to-end user experience with a purpose-built platform
Ensure seamless transitions to reduce customer frustration by getting the customer to the right agent based on past experiences, user profile, etc. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to repeat information and service issues multiple times during one interaction as you’re bounced around from one channel, service or department to another. Remote support, enabled by a purpose-built platform, will leverage and/or pass along real-time customer data to deliver a consistent experience across any service or communication channel. An all-encompassing services platform provides end-to-end service visibility. In today’s world where there are several ways to connect to businesses – chat, mobile device, website, call center – multi-channel service is critical but works best when the transitions are seamless and enabled by the right platform.
3) Have one view of the customer
The number of wireless connections continues to increase rapidly, with Frost & Sullivan predicting it to reach a point of 97.5 wireless connections for every 100 people globally in 2016. The opportunity for collecting data on consumer usage will surge. By integrating data into services, companies will be able to put it to use to create even better offerings and make insightful customer recommendations.
Businesses should incorporate all data, customer information and available features into interactions (subscription billing, remote service management, customer lifecycle management, etc.). Providing past data and a single view of customer purchase and service history enables support services to understand and anticipate customer needs. Effective remote support provides the ability to view and control the customer experience, enabling a single point of contact for technology advice.
With a single view of customers, businesses can leverage this data to provide insightful recommendations. For example, an agent viewing a record may see that the customer is using high-speed Internet, but there are six laptops connected to the account. The agent can proactively offer the customer an upgrade to their Internet plan for more data usage, ensuring that service remains speedy, and eliminating the chance of slow connections or outages.
Nearly one billion connected computing devices (including smartphones, PCs and tablets) shipped last year and that number is expected to double by 2016 (IDC). With such diversity of devices, there isn’t just one solution for servicing connected customers whose lives get more complex as they adopt more technology. Retailers, OEMs and carriers will have to service multiple devices and platforms from multiple brands. The businesses who take advantage of this opportunity to expand existing relationships and grow business will be at the forefront of the evolving, connected world.
Jordan Socran is Vice President of Business Development at Radialpoint.