By Alex Konanykhin | CEO | TransparentBusiness.com
The new generation of informed and hyper-connected consumers is changing the parameters of interaction with companies — and social networks and mobile technologies are at center stage of these changes.
Technological advances have totally reconfigured our daily communications. In less than two decades the accelerated digitalizing of our society has changed the way in which millions of people interact among themselves, the way in which they search for information relevant to their lives and the speed with which both these processes happen.
The link between companies and consumers has been an exception to these transformations — but thanks to social networks and mobile technologies, we are seeing users more and more informed and interactive.
Let's look at the principal characteristics of new consumers in the 21st century — and how they affect and redefine a practice of customer service that is more efficient and opportune.
They are "on the Web" — Consumers today are present on social networks and they don't use them only to share photographs. If they have a bad experience with a certain product or service it is very likely that they will let their friends and contacts know. In this way, their ability to generate content and make it viral is much greater than it was in the past.
They are informed — Customer service representatives have to keep in mind that consumers they are in contact with can search, compare and contrast information about products and services in only a few minutes. This is especially important to remember in order to avoid improvised answers or answers that are not serious.
They react in real time — Consumers demand immediate answers. In an era where so many forms of communication and logistics are possible, the speed with which a claim is processed will be directly proportional to the client's satisfaction.
Customer Service in the 21st century
Analyzing the principle trends in the sector, Marketing and Solutions SAP expert Hansen Lieu has traced some of the principle alignments to consider in this new relationship between clients and companies.
In the first place, Lieu perceives a functional integration between social networks and customer service. According to the expert, this would allow companies to quickly detect a complaint made by an unsatisfied customer before he or she spreads their discontent through social networks. For example, if a young person who has just bought an LCD television screen posts on social networks that he or she has had technical problems trying to make the device work, it is probable that friends and contacts will make comments about the problems. Some will try to help with largely ineffective advice while others might take advantage of the opportunity to mention similar problems they've had with the same brand.
In this scenario imagined by Lieu, customer service representatives from the company in question will have access to monitoring of their brand when it is mentioned on social networks, and they will be able to connect — via this same social network — with the customer having problems.
This example forecasts that these platforms 3.0 will gain importance as channels of complaints by consumers, and because of this it, will be essential that companies know how to respond to social networks. The positive aspect of this integration is that companies will have access to a large source of information about their clients, and if they know how to use it correctly, they will be able to resolve their difficulties more easily.
On the other hand, Lieu highlights that the incorporation of new technological channels can complement a satisfactory user experience. In this way, the doubts that a person might have about installing or setting up a certain device could be resolved over video chat. With this tool, the customer service representative will not only be more efficient in communicating the procedure, but it will also give the company a "human face."
Beyond these predictions, the essential thing to understand is that the consumer occupies a new place in an era where technology strongly intersects our daily lives. If we understand that our clients — both current and potential — have the ability to film a video, upload it to the web and send it to their friends in a matter of minutes, we need to count on an infrastructure as much technical as human to offer solutions at the same speed and efficiency.