According to a recent report by PWC[i], technology and innovation are rapidly changing the face of customer service, making it a major contributing factor to profitability and market share. However, technology is only one part of the puzzle. Unless companies can get customers to engage with their apps and other technology offerings there will be little impact on the bottom line. For example: A business may have developed a customer service app, but without a user friendly interface with accurate information and integration, and customers engaged and using the app, the effort will be wasted. Is there a way that businesses can grow their customer engagement using the available technology?

The PWC report highlights several factors that are driving change within customer service, namely: Consumerism; Simplification; Social trends; and the Cloud. Increasingly customer service is becoming more customer centric with customer demanding omni-channel access and interactions based on their needs. Plus with the barrage of information and marketing blurb being channeled at customers they are looking for ways to filter out information that is relevant to them. Personalization is becoming increasingly important. Social trends see customers taking to public social media platforms in order to get their voices heard which can have either positive or negative consequences for businesses. Lastly the mystery of Cloud customer service is becoming a more attractive and affordable way to meet the ever growing customer demands.

Advantages of cloud customer service

Technology investments require large amounts of capital and with the rapid pace at which technology advances this can sometimes appear to be a losing battle. The answer is to work smarter and rather than reinvent the wheel to simply make use of the services and technology already available. Cloud services offer a more agile solution, with more advanced expertise and greater customization. It is an enabling technology that is able to adapt more quickly to new interfaces, hardware or software and may just be the answer to serving customers more efficiently.

Most people working in customer service have a high level of computer literacy, which means that if the technology can be made available to them, they have the basic skills necessary to be able to find the information in order to resolve customer queries. The challenge is not necessarily with having trained people or even the right customer management systems, but rather the integration aspect of having technology that can filter information and help agents find what they need.

One area where the cloud has been very successful is integrating customer service and sales systems. This enables an agent to view the customer history of any past purchases or queries.  This information provides a detailed background on the client and helps the agent to provide an accurate, engaging and personalized customer service solution. Because the information is stored in the cloud, anyone in the company with the right login can access the information.

The customer perspective

The advantages Cloud customer service offers appeals to the customers desire for easier access to information and greater personalization. How often have you called in to a contact centre and despite being a client for several years had to repeat your whole history. It’s tedious and feels unnecessary, the company should have your information. Well most of the time they do, but instead of it being available to sales and customer service agents, it’s been archived and forgotten about.

However, imagine you call up because of a faulty internet connection for the third time in a month. From your mobile telephone number the customer service agent can already see your account and immediately recognizes the problem because they can see it’s the third fault reported, even though you have reported faults via different channels including email and social. The agent knows to escalate the query and can prioritize the repair. They can see you’ve been a loyal client for years and as a result proactively offer you a credit for the month as an apology for the inconvenience.

How would that experience make you feel? Cared for, valued as a customer? There’s no doubt about it! Would you want to engage more with the company and recommend them to a friend, despite the faults that occurred in your subscription? You probably would, all because the responsibility of resolving your query was lifted off your shoulders and taken on by an agent who had the knowledge and access to information they needed to find an efficient solution. You may even want to share the turnaround on social and review sites.

This is the type of engagement that cements customer loyalty and helps to grow market share and profitability. It’s proven that keeping customers is far more affordable than having to continually source new customers so as a business strategy it makes sense to invest in technology that will boost customer engagement. Customers today are smart and demanding because they know that solutions are possible. It’s time to meet those expectations.

[i] http://www.pwc.com/us/en/advisory/customer/publications/assets/service-and-engagement.pdf