With the increasing integration of social media in our everyday lives, both people and businesses are becoming rapidly more connected to one another. It is because of this development that business models are now having to adapt to more personal spheres of communication, like marketing, social media engagement, and customer service. Engaging potential consumers has become much more involved as a process than plunking a few rotating advertisements in newspapers and television breaks.
In 1998, Google - the world’s most ubiquitous search engine - was born, and with it the idea of type-to-search. The idea was simple: type what you want to know and find the information that you’re looking for. That model has taken over ever since. In fact, today, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
It was a major meeting for my friends at Volkswagen Australia. This was their Customer Experience Summit, and the theme for the meeting was “Think Small: Big Differences Come from SMALL Details.”
Jason Bradshaw, the Director of Customer Experience, shared his vision about Volkswagen Australia being recognized and known for their amazing customer service. His goal is for VW to be one of the best in the industry. His bold move was to tell the audience, which consisted of the ownership and management of the Volkswagen dealerships throughout the country, that everyone should think small. Really? How can thinking small propel you to greatness? Well, it turns out Jason was onto something… BIG!
Like me, you probably acquire an increasing amount of your goods and services online. Whether it’s Amazon for physical goods, or TurboTax for your tax bill, we’re spending a lot less time in brick and mortar stores, and a lot more time in front of screens entering our credit card numbers. But think back to your first Amazon purchase or the first time you submitted your taxes online. These were not low stress moments. Here you are, sitting in front of a screen, about to give your credit card to a faceless business you’ve never transacted with. You’re wondering:
- Should you trust them?
- Will your product arrive on time?
- Will they do what they promised?
- Is it worth the money?
- What will they do with your personal data?
- Will they still be around the next time you need to use them?
- What’s their refund policy?
- Does anyone I trust use this?
Automation will be Customer Service 2.0
If there’s one thing most customer service experts agree these days it’s that the future lies with more personal, empathetic service. Nobody wants another automate “Your call is very important to us” email. The shift to basic automation and outsourcing in the early 2000s allowed big brands to scale customer service quickly but it cost them on quality of service. The industry got so bad that even now you can stand out from the competition by just not treating customers who have a problem as an annoyance.
When the smartphone came out, it completely changed the game for digital technology and communications. Suddenly, users no longer needed separate devices for music, the internet, phone calls, photos, GPS, etc. Instead, they had access to all of it in one hand with the push of a button - and the world never looked back.
They say every once in a while, there comes along a new technology that disrupts the entire industry and changes the way we see things. Almost a decade after its arrival, digital technology has transformed the retail industry in how customers purchase, evaluate, receive, return, or use products. We hear stories such as ‘Shoppers fleeing physical stores’, ‘Great mall exodus’ and so on. Indeed, Marc Andreessen’s prediction that e-commerce will overtake retail businesses seems to become truer every day.
Just because a web page is popular doesn’t mean that it’s useful. In fact, it could be getting in the way of a more useful page.
“We’ve recently decided to remove Basic rights at work, the most visited advice page on our website,” Hannah Horton from the UK’s Citizen Advice recently wrote. “It gets 70,000 visits a month and is in the top results for lots of queries about work problems on Google.”
Ah, the future…
I marvel at how “the future” occupies so much of our focus, and yet it always looms just out of reach, never really “here” and always “out there.” It’s never quite real, the future; at least, not real like the present is perpetually real. In fact, the present is the only real thing we consistently have.