It was just the other day that customer support only included phone calls and talking to customers with a smile on your face. Now customer support includes a wide range of activities, including helping the customer to make a decisive cost-effective decision. It also includes assistance in planning, installation, training, troubleshooting, maintenance, upgrading, and disposal of a product. The biggest change that has occurred in customer service is the mode at which people communicate with your business. For instance, nowadays people can reach a particular business through sending of mails, social media, text message, voice call and even at times through video calls. These methods are used instead of the use of phone calls and snail mails which were the norm some years back.
For example, Safaricom Kenya limited have a very active Facebook and twitter page where customers post their queries and get response instantly or in a number of minutes. Safaricom isn’t the only company that has embraced social media and the new techniques of social support but also government and non-governmental based organizations. For instance, the Kenya Revenue Authority has put up a very active twitter page that allows Kenyans to actually get information about their tax returns and ask questions that will be answered at an appropriate time. The Kenya red cross has also put up a page that shares with people relevant information about the places to donate blood and other activities that they are involved in.
Customer support has also changed significantly in that customers have been presented with self-help options. This is in the case where business owners don’t have to send a representative to fix the problem but give guidelines on how to fix the problem. For instance, some businesses have put up trouble shooting guides and FAQ pages on their websites to help customers solve their own problems. This can be seen through companies putting in place self-service options. It is a win-win situation for both the company and the customer in that customers get the answer of what they need at a lower cost for the company. For instance, GOtv and Dstv in Kenya have put up a very effective customer self- service network in which their customers can get access to it through their website and also through there Dstv and GOtv channels whose main purpose is to equip the customer with efficient self-service options.
Another change that has been brought about by the evolution of customer support is that customers are now in control. Anybody who has a very wise business perspective know that customers are in the drivers’ seat when it comes to public brand perception. The internet has given customers a loud voice and people are not afraid to use the power that they have acquired through the internet. In the past if a customer was mad about a product or service offered there wasn’t anything much that the customer could do apart from calling the customer. This could either be resolved or not, but unfortunately, we couldn’t tell. But due to the invention of social media, if you bad mouth a product or service, it can go far and can lead to your product not being purchased at all. You can no longer treat people badly and expect your brand to grow. The more bad reviews you get the less clients you get and vice versa.
Another win for the customer service industry is the use of Interactive Voice Response System. IVR Systems can normally handle and service high volumes of phone calls. With an Interactive Voice Response system, businesses can reduce costs and improve customers’ experience as Interactive Voice Response systems allow callers to get information they need 24 hours a day without the need of costly human agents. For example, a bank may have an IVR system that allows members to call in and check their balance or recent transactions. Credit card companies and stock brokerage firms can also use IVR systems to allow users to access information from their account. The technology can also be used for other purposes such as phone surveys, checking movie times, and call center forwarding.
For instance, over the past few years the Kenyan banking halls have always been crowned with very long ques but nowadays due to people complaining and different banks trying to get more clientele they have found a way to actually reduce the lines and make people not waste time in banking halls. Stanbic Bank for example, has a provision for customers to deposit their money directly without going through the tellers.