Customer Service And Technology

Technology is rapidly changing our world but individual customer service is not keeping up.

While many companies offer products and services through apps and downloads, there are still many functions and applications still needing hands-on help.

Take for instance buying a new mobile device.  On average, consumers spend five hours talking about or researching a new mobile device, according to industry pundits.

When they do decide to buy, consumers wait an average of 27 minutes for a sales person and another 38 minutes to actually make the purchase.  Add an expected 89 minutes to upgrade and make the new mobile device fully functional.

Technology is being held back by insufficient customer service.

We’re told by knowledgeable people that upgrading to the newest version of Microsoft results in one of two new users seeking outside help.

While Apple, Microsoft, Samsung are among the leaders in making technological transitions as seamless as possible, there is still a lot of handholding going on as we transfer many applications to our mobile devices.

Technology is also transforming the way we ring up drugs, groceries, cab rides, transit tickets and a host of other applications.

But with these changes is a vast training requirement, which is requiring tens of billions of dollar.

For small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs), the road to technological change means in many cases they are hanging back until larger entities have expended the dollars to train customers.

Take for instance the new credit and debit card acceptance protocols.  Where before banks accepted the losses from fraud, starting just recently merchants not equipped with the new smart terminals were paying for fraud loses.  The threat of the costs associated with these losses forced many card receivers to ease restrictions for a year.

Some card issuers did not ease the costs to SMBs and these entities are suffering losses.

Here is a clear instance where technology is ahead of customer service managers’ ability to train staff.

Ironically, younger customer service employees despite their familiarity with tech tools are showing the same lack of flexibility as their older predecessors in servicing customers.

For those companies relying on network downloads the story is much the same.  A recent survey by Information Strategies, Inc. (ISI) determined that after price customer service and live tech support were key factors determining sales success.

For SMBs and others, the watchword should be technological advancement with a strong dose of customer service.

JoAnn Laing, Editor