How technology is disrupting traditional notions of customer service

25th November 2016

In an age when speed reigns supreme, the need for a swift response is competing with customers’ desire for ‘service with a smile’. Rather than being satisfied with access to organisations during business hours only or solely in person, customers expect an immediate reply from companies on their platform of choice.

As customers can share their feedback on social media immediately after a brand interaction, poor or slow service is more open to criticism. In response to this evolution, there has been a rise of portal based service management solutions to enhance the customer service currently provided by businesses.

Online portals have made service and policy management more transparent by giving customers 24/7 access to an instant picture of what is happening, making companies more open to their customers.

Can computers really replace people?
There is much debate about whether ‘service’ provided by computers can really replace human customer service. Chatbots, which are automated intelligence pre-programmed responses, are emerging as the latest development in the world of digital customer service.

Using chatbots, companies can programme structured messages including links to company websites, images and call to action buttons. Chatbots therefore have the benefit of speed, whilst simulating a human response, disrupting the traditional notions of customer service by removing the need for a ‘friendly face’ and replacing it with quick and efficient responses to customer queries.

Is self-service really service?
Whilst some people resist the idea that ‘DIY’ solutions are a more advanced form of service, there is growing recognition that computer based customer service can bring certain benefits that have the power to transform industries, often at the same time as reducing costs. In this context, customer service is less about a personal service and more about the fundamental customer proposition.

For this, we can look to Uber, which has become a market leader due to using technology to successfully provide customers with a combination of: higher speed, lower cost and greater transparency; Uber shows customers an up to date and clear account of their ride.

Whilst computer based customer service systems may lack the human touch, they certainly do deliver more rapid, up-to-date responses and ultimately allow customers to take control of the service that they are investing in. Companies must be brave to keep up in this time conscious world; it is essential that they invest in technology to stay ahead of the curve, and expand on their definition of ‘customer service’ to really deliver what customers want.