By Tyler Koblasa

When interactive voice response (IVR) first hit the customer support scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it seemed like a service provider’s dream come true. No longer was a human representative needed for each step of the support process. Instead, customers could seamlessly guide themselves through a series of prompts to get personalized help, which was often outsourced to a contact centre in another country.

The other shoe dropped on IVR quickly, as anyone who’s ever yelled “OPERATOR” at a phone bot knows all too well. It turns out that humans wanted, and still want, to interact with other humans to solve problems. An Accenture study found 83% of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues1.

Customers who aren’t getting the service they need have no reason to remain loyal. A plethora of provider options now exist for utilities, cable/Internet and cell phones.

Fast-growing companies that aren’t aware of this are vulnerable to ruining customer relationships by forming dangerous habits, such as over-automating or losing personal touches. And with the cost of customers switching providers due to poor service estimated at $1.6 trillion according to Accenture2, it’s not a mistake they can afford to make.

But customer service tech exists for a reason and can work hand-in-hand with human interaction. By following this roadmap, providers can avoid some service-related growing pains.

Support as an investment
Quality customer support starts with the right mindset. In the past decade providers thought about support mostly from a cost-reduction standpoint. Service just wasn’t a priority and customers knew it. But you could be losing out on a multitude of future business by alienating even one customer.

Providers are gradually getting the message that effective support generates profits. We’ve seen the percentage of organizations devoted to customer support steadily increase. For good reason. Every touch you have with an end user is a chance to affect the customer satisfaction rating. What someone says about your company i.e. word of mouth is the best driver of future clients.

Knowing your customers’ technology comfort levels
For B2B clients with a deeper knowledge of data and technology, interacting with chatbots to answer straightforward questions might be a realistic solution. It can be a good starting point for consumers as well; service providers can’t get on chat sessions with every single user of $10 widgets.

But you also don’t want those users to get frustrated by digging around online to self-solve problems. Screen sharing and video technologies can help customers feel like they’re in the same room as a support technician who’s more sympathetic to their problems than a faceless box.

For example, a user struggling with Zoom conference technology can call a help line, but they can also launch a video chat session with a live human. Rather than Agent XYZ, you have Judy or Bob. Now there’s a personal relationship where you’re talking with Bob at Zoom, who can potentially record your screen and see everything in real time.

Team growth doesn’t mean larger footprints
In an era of home offices and co-working spaces, growing companies are finding less need to supply every employee with a permanent desk. Customer service departments are capitalizing on this change; for example, I’ve visited car rental kiosks that feature representatives sitting in front of blue screens modified to fit the environment. These video options offer an elastic ability to deploy more agents from anywhere.

At the same time there’s comfort in knowing an agent is sitting at a normal desk among their co-workers. As echo and background cancellation improve, there’s less reason to worry about distractions in a shared environment and providing customers a peek inside a provider’s office can make them feel more connected to the company.

Scale security and support
As the scope of technology and number of places to store information increases, including cloud-based smart home devices, so too will attacks on personal information. And while 92% of consumers say it’s extremely important that companies protect the privacy of their personal information, it’s something no one quite knows how to predict or define in practice3.

This is a danger that’s at the forefront of CloudApp’s future thinking. Screen recording and video recording and screenshots allow CloudApp representatives to quickly create visual content, but sensitive information is potentially at play. We solve for this by running artificial intelligence (AI) security applications to ensure secure information isn’t being stored while building searchable video libraries. Having strong security that evolves with the threats gives customers peace of mind that helps organizations retain and grow their loyalty.

Tyler Koblasa is CEO, CloudApp (www.getcloudapp.com). CloudApp is an all-in-one visual sharing platform that enables recording, hosting and sharing short videos, GIFs, images and visuals to make team conversations faster and more succinct.

1 Accenture, “U.S. Companies Losing Customers As Consumers Demand More Human Interaction, Accenture Strategy Study Finds,” press release, March 23, 2016.
2 Accenture, “Human Interaction”, ibid.
3 Accenture, “Human Interaction”, ibid.

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