Technology and Customer Service
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Technology and Customer Service

Posted by Ralph Shepard on Monday, October 11, 2010

I was born a geek. Before I even hit my teenage years I spent most of my free time teaching myself to program my Vic20.  My father would tell me I was wasting time, that personal computers were a fad and had little or no business applications.  He was positive that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to get out and learn something useful.  Luckily, I never gave up on technology and now, dad and I laugh about how wrong he was.  

While in school, I worked in a call center.  At that time, great customer service was all about having the right people on the phone. While the need for excellent, passionate people is still critical to a functional “contact center”, technology provides an extra boost to our mission of creating Raving Fans.

Let’s be clear here. When I talk about boosting customer service with technology, I am not talking about automated phone systems or mass implementation of robocalls. These are cases of technology creating a complete disregard for what is at the core of customer service: people helping people.

Instead, I want to talk about technology that enhances how people help people. I’m always on the lookout for problems that can be solved with technology.  There are two rules that I use when evaluating new technology:

  • Bring the work to the people - If people have to find the work before they can do it, then technology probably has a solution. While CRM may seem like an obvious, ho-hum example, I’m going to use it anyway. Because, the truth is that companies are only just beginning to tap into the power of CRM technology.

    Sure, a database that allows a service representative to pull up a customer file at the click of a mouse is helpful, but the ability to maintain a complete history of your customer relationship from sales calls to service requests and everything in between: blogs, tweets, fan pages, conventions, etc. etc. etc. is invaluable developing and maintaining strong customer relationships.
  • Automate the norm - If you can solve 60 percent of cases through automation,  you are miles ahead. Luckily, I happen to work for a company that specializes in automating complex processes. Authorizations, processing, billing, reporting – literally thousands of transaction processing details are completed through automated processes here on a daily basis, making our customers’ and our customers’ customers’ lives that much simpler.

    But automation goes beyond basic transaction processing services to customer access. What information do we have on hand that could be useful to the customer? And how can we provide it to the customer in a secure, yet streamlined way for on-demand access? Every program Multi Service facilitates includes a secure web portal through which clients, merchants, and end-users can access important information regarding their accounts. The functionality and data provided there is constantly evolving to serve their needs.

These two rules and a dedication to “people helping people” help create an environment where my team can truly be more than another representative answering the “call.”  Instead, my team is the essential contact to handle our customers’ questions and problems.  

On top of that, my dad now approves of my “geekiness”!

--Ralph

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