Traditional & Technological Methods of Customer Service

Instructor: David Whitsett

David has taught computer applications, computer fundamentals, computer networking, and marketing at the college level. He has a MBA in marketing.

We all know good customer service when we receive it, but does it matter if it comes from a traditional or technological source? In this lesson, we'll discuss the differences between technological and traditional methods of customer service.

Your Call Is Very Important To Us

Does hearing a recording tell you how important your call is make you feel any better? Most consumers have horror stories about how they've been treated by customer service. We encounter customer service in points before and after the sale, and we may be served by traditional or technological means.

First, let's define customer service. Customer service is making sure customers are happy with a product or service and happy with the experience they've had with a company. So customer service can be part of the buying process (how we're treated by a clerk in a store) and also what happens after the sale (returns, repairs, etc.).

What do we mean by traditional or technological means? Technological is easier to define at this point. Self-service kiosks, online chat with technical support, social media customer service: these all qualify as technological means. Traditional customer service is a little tougher to nail down; it used to be thought of as interactions with a human. But younger generations may not see anything ''non-traditional'' about dealing with technological means; it's all in what you're used to.

Some companies handle customer service better than others
Customer service grenade

What Is Good Customer Service?

So what does the consumer want from customer service? Studies have shown that speed is important, but product knowledge and empathy are also big factors. We may get irritated when we walk into a store and don't get waited on or hold too long for a phone rep, but if they're rude or not knowledgeable, that might make things worse. When we use social media or online chat for customer service, our expectations for speed are heightened because of the medium - technology. Technology is supposed to be all about speed.

What aspect of customer service engenders loyalty and makes lifelong customers willing to tell others about their experiences? Making things easy for customers, whether it's a purchase or service after the sale, is very important. Remember Staples' ''Easy Button'' marketing campaign (easy-to-obtain mail-in rebates) or Carvana's commercials about their car buying process (''That Didn't Suck'')? Customers are delighted with your service (traditional or technological) when you make their task easier. This means not having to make multiple phone calls, talk to multiple people, fill out endless forms, etc.

Yes, you can buy an Easy button
Easy Button

Reaching Out Versus Reacting

Waiting for customers to ask questions, whether in a traditional setting (taking phone calls) or technological setting (being available via email) is reactive customer service; a company waiting to help until they're asked. How can a company be proactive, or offer help before it's asked for? From a technological customer service standpoint, a company can gather feedback during chat sessions or via online surveys in order to learn more about customer pain points. From there, it can take action to prevent future recurrences. Nipping future problems in the bud can provide cost savings as well.

What about in-person customer service? A company can create content that answers customers' questions to make the purchase easier. Notice when you walk up to a counter at a fast-food restaurant; more establishments are putting menus near the door. Menus on the wall are bigger, often with video screens and vivid details. Less confusion at the counter speeds up service.

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