Verticals/The Boardroom

Companies turning to self service customer care to beat competition

The Boardroom Tineka Smith

11:01, April 18 2012

Research suggests that companies are investing in customer care tools to allow issues to be solved without customers needing to speak to an employee. Businesses say this type of investment will give them a competitive edge over others.

customer service
Photo Credit: Alan Clark design

According to a Virgin Media Business study automated customer care systems via websites is looking to be the top priority for business building upon their existing customer service programmes over the next year.

Out of 5,000 businesses surveyed only 58% said they their current level of customer care helps them stand out against the competition. 37% reported plans to revitalise their systems with automated self service capabilities in efforts to increase their customer demand.

Companies also say that another priority in automated customer service is offering automated text messaging, with 22% saying the plan to invest in the service.

"As we all become more digital, we expect to be able to contact businesses at any time with questions, queries or complaints," said Phil Stewart, Director Customer Services at Virgin Media Business. "For businesses this poses a real problem in terms of staffing this demand. In part because of the way social media works, people want to be engaged as quickly as possible. Yet for most businesses, they simply can't afford to have someone staff a customer helpline 24/7."

Companies that cannot offer a 24/7 helpline are increasingly turning to social media instead.

"In response, we're seeing companies invest in social media. Nine per cent are increasing their use of Facebook, with six per cent investing in Twitter, said Stewart. "But the priority is with automated 'e-Services' that can respond to customers around the clock. It's not a replacement for speaking to people directly, but can help point people in the right direction for information or simply acknowledge an enquiry."

Embracing tools that can help handle enquires by customers when no staff is present can increase opportunities for businesses.

"These tools can help companies be leaner in the way they deal with customer enquiries and ensure that opportunities aren't missed simply because of resourcing issues," said Stewart.


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