Providing good customer service isn't just about maintaining a positive reputation for your company. How well you serve your customers is directly tied to customer loyalty.
One survey found that about 50 percent of people who have a good customer experience with a mid-sized company made an additional purchase from that company. Given the fact that it's far more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to keep an existing one, generating repeat business is a big return on your investments in customer service.
Unfortunately, providing the best possible customer service isn't easy. It's always been like trying to hit a moving target as customer expectations evolve, but the massive disruptions triggered by COVID-19 have turned customer expectations on their head. From the rise of self-checkouts to ordering everything off your phone, most of the disruptions we've seen in recent years have one thing in common: technology.
The idea that "every company is a technology company" has never been truer than it is right now, even in terms of customer service. IT capabilities are critical to providing good service, and many companies are using managed IT to improve customer service and make sure they have the technical capabilities needed to meet post-pandemic expectations.
It's important to note that COVID-19 also changed the employee experience as well. This also has implications for customer service, as employee engagement levels are directly related to the quality of a company's customer service. Employees need a level of technology that allows them to do their job and their daily experience needs to match their expectations as well.
If your employees are working remotely or in a hybrid situation, your IT systems must support them. If your employees must be on-location, you should at least provide them with some level of digital access for things like benefits and scheduling.
Providing both a good customer experience and employee experience can be challenging for an in-house IT team. This is why many companies are turning to managed IT for customer service. Providers can organize and maintain a company's IT capabilities in a way that delivers on both customer and employee expectations.
Taking this holistic view of customer service, consider the following specific ways that managed IT services can enhance customer service.
How Can Managed IT Help Improve Customer Service?
Managed IT service providers don't just take a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting customer service. To best serve their clients, service providers work to gain an understanding of each company, the products or services they provide, and the markets they serve. Developing this understanding helps a provider to hit the ground running and develop dependable IT systems for customer service.
However, having knowledge of a company and its markets goes beyond minimizing downtime with dependable IT. There is also a strategic element to managed IT for customer service. If your organization depends on services to move into new markets or provide service for new offerings, a provider can help to create a plan for dealing with common issues that appear, maintaining regular communication and making necessary adjustments as needed.
It's important to remember that a provider is staffed with technology experts with a wide range of IT services experience. Quality technicians strive to relate to end-users, whether that's your employees or your customers.
This helps them focus on developing solutions and responding to service tickets. Typically, a service ticket isn't for a trivial issue. It's usually for something important and often, the person submitting the ticket is frustrated or upset. Technicians who provide managed IT for customer service understand that providing great service experience gets passed down to a client's customers.
Ultimately, customized IT services aim for your company to provide a more personalized experience to your customers. There are a number of ways in which a service provider can help you achieve this goal.
Setting Up Service Infrastructure
Your company's customer service infrastructure ties together all aspects of your service, from employees to processes to service technologies. In the same way that transportation infrastructure ties towns and cities together, customer service infrastructure connects your departments to better serve your customers.
In some companies, the customer service infrastructure is loosely defined.
This can lead to repetitive responsibilities and the inefficient use of technology. It can also lead to siloed communication and a lack of visibility into customer service functions. If your company is looking to better structure its customer service department, you should start by asking two main questions:
- What tasks need to be handled? Taking stock of all the essential customer service tasks can help with the division of labor and prevent customer service employees from handling responsibilities that other employees should take care of.
- How should each task be handled? After identifying all the essential tasks, you should determine which employees will be responsible for handling which task and what tools they will use.
Managed IT for customer service can help with solutions for the second question. For example, a modern phone solution with interactive voice response technology can direct service calls to different departments and employees. Managed IT can also help to establish a company intranet that service representatives can use to find information on your products and services or connect to subject matter experts in your organization.
Many modern customer service technologies include automation and artificial intelligence functions. Service providers keep up to date on these technologies and can help your company leverage automation to make your service even more efficient. Automated features could even allow customers to find the information they are looking for without ever having to speak with a live service representative.
Break Down Silos of Customer Communication
Whether a company is B2B or B2C, it must be responsive to customers throughout the entire purchasing life cycle, and a lapse in communication can seriously damage this relationship. Companies often communicate to their customers through multiple channels, and a siloed approach to communication makes responsiveness even more challenging.
Working closely with a managed services provider, your company can ensure its communication channels are fully integrated. If your company has customer relations specialists, this integration could include tracking all your team's interactions with specific customers. This level of integration requires some strategic planing and thought than it seems, but companies that break down these silos can gain a competitive advantage over the competition.
Leverage Customer Analytics
Customer analytics help your company better understand its consumers so you customize a customer journey that meets their expectations. Valuable customer data can be gathered from various touchpoints, such as customer service interactions, social media, online shopping platforms and customer surveys. Customer service platforms can gather this data automatically and organize valuable information like customer names, purchase history and service history.
From there, these platforms can perform analytics on this data and generate reports full of insights. Technologies like automated call transcription, multi-channel monitoring, and chatbots give companies more quantifiable customer data than ever before. Through analytics, companies can readily convert all the data they collect into new insights.
For instance, automated call transcripts could be analyzed to identify words and phrases indicating a customer might be interested in a particular offer. Analytics can also be used to recognize steps in the customer service process that may be pushing customers away.
Analytics and the insights they produce are predicated on gathering good data, and a managed IT services provider can help your company collect data and store it securely. A provider can put your data in secure cloud storage and even connect you to analytics functions in the cloud, allowing them to be accessed remotely.
Standardize Customer Service Processes
Customer service positions have high turnover rates. This shouldn't come as a surprise, given that its a role that often spends time with people who are frustrated or upset. Replacing representatives is expensive, typically costing in the thousands of dollars.
One way to make representatives more efficient and keep them engaged is to produce repeatable processes through business process management tools. Some customer service agents use a dozen or more applications throughout their workday, but they often don't use them in the same sequential process. Despite good training and oversight, agents often fall into their own work habits, and this can lead to inconsistent service.
Standardizing processes means leading agents from one application to another, with each displaying the screen needed at each point in the process. The result is a consistent and efficient way to handle common customer interactions. Managed IT for customer service supports this standardization by putting the right IT infrastructure in place.
Monitoring Downtime and Efficiently Solving Problems
The cost of downtime can range from hundreds of dollars a minute for small companies to thousands of dollars a minute for large companies, especially those companies that do most of their business over the internet. Managed IT for customer service can not only help minimize downtime but also help with a proactive approach to problem-solving.
Cybercrime never sleeps, and around-the-clock monitoring is the best way to protect your valuable assets. Modern IT monitoring takes a proactive approach that involves identifying potential cybersecurity and network stability issues. Around-the-clock monitoring can also involve performing maintenance-related issues during off hours.
Better Cybersecurity and Compliance
For small and mid-sized businesses, managed service providers are a convenient option for ensuring a secure environment for critical customer interactions. Providers can give these companies access to essential security protocols like multi-factor authentication, encryption and firewalls. In addition to protecting against unauthorized access, providers can also monitor suspicious activities and address threats before they can impact customers.
Providers can also ensure that your company remains compliant with respect to handling customer data. This is particularly relevant for companies that do business in Europe and other areas with strict privacy laws.
Access to Specialized Expertise
When a company is expanding its products and services, it often requires expanding technical customer service capabilities.
Managed services provide a cost-effective means for businesses to quickly access the expertise needed for both new offerings and the associated service-related requirements. This benefit is extremely helpful for businesses with highly technical needs or limited resources. Bringing in specialized expertise also helps to ensure your company is up-to-date on the newest technical solutions.
Better Scalability and Flexibility
If your company is expanding quickly, it needs to expand its capabilities accordingly, or else customer service teams will get bogged down by technical issues. Managed services can be a great option for scaling up compared to hiring more in-house IT professionals. Additionally, the flexibility offered by managed services allows for better resource allocation, making it simpler to adjust customer service capabilities.
Let Us Handle the IT So You Can Handle the Customer Service
At Taylored Systems, our managed IT provides short- and long-term benefits for customer service. First and foremost, we ensure that your company has dependable IT capabilities. Our IT consulting services include a review of your current capabilities to identify any efficiencies or opportunities for improvement.
Our data storage services can help your company get more out of its valuable information while keeping it safe. We also provide firewall and router support to ensure your employees have secure access where they need it. Our cybersecurity and monitoring services are designed to provide peace of mind and keep you up and running.
Our managed IT solutions can also assist with strategic planning. If you are expanding your facilities or moving to a new location, we can help you design and implement new IT infrastructure. We can also help you develop a backup and disaster recovery plan that mitigates any damage caused by cyberattacks or natural disasters.
If you would like to learn more about how our managed IT solutions can help your organization or agency in the short- and long-term, contact us today to schedule a consultation.