People have been communicating with each other long-distance since the beginning of time, from smoke signals, to carrier pigeons. However, the way we communicate has changed significantly over time thanks to advancements in technology; namely the Internet and mobile.
Before the cellular phone, there existed these things called landlines. Most households had one from the 1950’s onwards, and only one person could make a call at a time. But it was in January 2007, when Steve Jobs stood on a stage and introduced a new mobile device that would change the way we communicate forever. It was named the iPhone, and Jobs described Apple’s new device as a three-in-one product: “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.” And it was.
Since the introduction of the smartphone, the way we communicate has changed massively. There is now a whole ecosystem that changes with the introduction of each new app, channel, and platform, and for customer service, there is now a sheer number of channels through which people can contact a business. Instead of just phone calls and snail mail, consumers can now reach businesses by email, social media, text message, video call and live chat. Mobile technology has enabled constant connectivity, giving customers 24/7 access to public forums in which they can talk, compliment — or complain — about a company.
With each new platform communication becomes more complex. This complexity creates new ways to engage with customers in the channels they prefer. Consumers expect to be answered on whichever channel is most convenient —whichever channel is most preferred — and brand loyalty is up for grabs with each engagement. According to the Microsoft Customer Service Report 2016, 56% of global consumers say they have higher expectations for customer service now than they had a year ago – this number jumps to 68% for 18-34yr olds and 77% of global consumers have a more favourable view of brands that offer proactive customer service.
The proliferation of devices and the rise of empowered consumers mean customers seek smarter service; they demand a more flexible, fast and fiercely personal customer service. Clearly, customers want results – fast.
So how can companies give customers what they want? Customer service is about being proactive and listening to a customer’s issues. There are no channel specifications when it comes to customer service. This means that brands must listen wherever customers choose to share. They need to adapt to real-time communications, which means every brand should be listening to its customer to find relevant messaging and engagement opportunities. Similarly businesses that use consumer data and equipped themselves with the technology and intelligence can be proactive, personal and predict what the customer wants before they ask for it can provide an even better customer service experience.
When a brand, company, business, focuses on customer service and support, it has the greatest growth potential and as communication continues to evolve, those who listen and take advantage of additional communication channels used by consumers as a means of customer service will ultimately engage and connect with customers easier, resulting in increased satisfaction, brand loyalty and revenue opportunities.