Can technology create a competitive advantage? Of course it can—just ask Uber. But if you’re running a business that sells to consumers, how can technology actually be a competitive advantage?
Have you ever contacted a company’s call center, sifted through the numerous “Press #” options, entered your account number, then been transferred to a “real” customer service person who asks you for the same information you just keyed in? At the end of explaining your problem, they say you need to call another phone number—and then ask you if they’ve “provided excellent service”?
Or how about listening to the call center operator tell you to “listen carefully to the following, because our options have changed”? Do they really think we remember their old options?
As the book Effortless Experiences by Matthew Dixon points out, your customers will only remain loyal if you provide them with an effortless experience. Dixon further points out that, although the modern customer service goal is to “exceed expectations,” in reality, your customer simply wants doing business with you to be easy. We initially pick a company because of its products, but we’ll stay or leave depending on its customer service.
A properly designed customer call center—one that can actually solve a caller’s inquiry on first contact—is the holy grail of customer service. It will not only help you retain customers, but it will attract customers away from your hard-to-do-business-with competition.
Your website design and accessibility is also vital to providing an effortless experience. If someone can’t navigate your website quickly and easily, you force them to call your customer service department. Since the majority of people try to solve their problems online, the first phone call to your customer service is likely their second attempt at finding a resolution to their problem. Studies show that 58 percent of all inbound calls to a call center are from customers who’ve already been to the company website.
In the past, there was a focus to get customers to try self-service online. Now, it’s all about getting them taken care of online. Take care to invest in a user-friendly website experience.
Video messaging is another quick and easy way to convey your value proposition. With the increase of video messaging, the several thousands of dollars you spent writing all the perfect words describing your goods and services are simply not being read. People will digest and retain a visual video message seven times more than reading text.
Proper bandwidth is another key component to delivering fast loading video messaging. Just as people don’t like to stand in a long line to get to a retail clerk, they don’t like to stand in a virtual line waiting for your messaging. Bandwidth options change every day. Combining any carrier’s wireline transport with another carrier’s wire lines, coaxial cable or satellite is now possible. Technology is available that combines up to four diverse Internet delivery services into one that offers load balancing and packet prioritization so that voice and video can take priority.
Steve Farmiloe is general manager of Top Speed Data Communications (www.TopSpeedData.com). As independent network design consultants, Top Speed professionals can help you assess your ideal network design at no cost to your organization. Contact him at Steve@TopSpeedData.com or (707)242-8270.
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