Seven Technologies to Improve Customer Service in SMBs

Which technologies really can improve customer service? We’ve compiled the opinions of John Goodman, a leading customer experience researcher and author of Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service, who shared his findings in our webinar, ‘Customer Experience 3.0: Ten Critical Technologies to Transform Customer Engagement’.

Since Joe Pine and James Gilmore wrote about ‘wowing’ customers in The Experience Economy in the 1990s, what’s considered ‘great’ customer service has continually evolved – from Pine and Gilmore’s notion that ‘goods and services are no longer enough’, to IBM’s Customer Experience 2.0, which focused on tailoring services to individual customers.

According to John, the next step is Customer Experience 3.0.

So, what is Customer Experience 3.0?

The one thing which hasn’t changed is that it’s the experience you offer customers that really differentiates you from the competition. And with technological developments ranging from mobile connectivity to speech analytics, businesses have more opportunities to enhance this experience than ever before.

Customer Experience 3.0 involves looking at the end-to-end customer experience and applying technology to each stage of the process. It entails three things: being proactive, preventive and engaging.

In our webinar, John discusses both the strategy and technology mix that every customer service team should consider, with a particular focus on the importance of being proactive when dealing with customer problems, mistakes and expectations – or as he calls it ‘saving the customer from himself’.

In terms of strategy, he highlights the importance of:

  • Access – and, in particular, placing a message in front of the customer at exactly the point when they’re most likely to experience a problem, and encouraging them to get in touch
  • Better communication – in terms of using your contact system to identify the issues that are causing high numbers of queries and providing the answers customers are likely to require upfront

Ultimately, however, it’s impossible for businesses to understand the full range of customer problems and be proactive and preventive without using the right technology.

Seven technologies for improving customer service

So, which technologies can improve customer engagement and experience? Here are the seven tools which John highlights in our webinar:

  1. Your website

A high proportion of businesses use their website’s homepage solely as a sales and marketing tool. But when around 70% of visitors are existing customers trying to get something done, does this make sense?

Your homepage should be your first line of defence when it comes to dealing proactively with the issues your customers are encountering. This should include a list of the five top issues you’re getting phone calls on, a clear list of FAQs at the top of the page and a short video that will educate the customer on problems to avoid.

  1. CRM with Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)

A CRM system with computer telephony integration is essential for SMBs operating in the digital age. Benefits include; automatic routing of customers to their preferred contact, allowing your team to quickly resolve issues, and increasing customer satisfaction – particularly within a business to business environment.

CTI can also automatically retrieve all the information about an account, providing customers with a seamless experience and increasing agent productivity. Perceived customer engagement will also be improved, as the agent can focus on the caller, rather than searching for their details.

John also suggests integrating a customer survey into the CRM system, so that it’s launched immediately after the transaction has closed. This can help you to identify unhappy customers – allowing your team to quickly contact them and address their concerns – as well as develop insights into what’s really causing customer dissatisfaction.

ContactWorld Quickstart for small businesses can help you to provide a personalized service to every enquiry and connect customers straight to their rep or account manager.

  1. Speech and text analytics

In the past, when a customer called asking for sensitive information, or on behalf of someone else, the agent would have to request a long list of security details, or to speak to the account holder.

Speech analytics is changing this, making it how the customer answers, rather than what they answer, the key to confirming their identity. This dramatically simplifies the process and improves customer experience.

Speech and text analytics can also increase the speed of the call evaluation process, making it possible to quickly sort the calls that don’t require immediate attention from those that do.

  1. Wireless and mobile

With an increasing number of devices able to connect to other devices or people independently, companies can monitor how customers are using their products, identify when they’re not using certain features and ‘proactively educate’ them.

John uses the example of modern car manufacturers, who are now monitoring customers’ use of their vehicle’s infotainment and navigation systems, and then sending those who don’t use all of the functions instructional videos.

Mobile and wireless technology is also enabling field reps to connect to the CRM system remotely, allowing them to easily input data and access real-time data – both of which ultimately enhance the customer experience.

  1. Social media

With more consumers turning to channels such as Facebook to complain about poor customer service, social media is a technology that has caused contact centers a great deal of concern.

However, John highlights that in CCMC’s 2013 Customer Rage Study it was found that only 2-4% of Americans use social media as their preferred contact channel and, in most cases, they’ll first give businesses two opportunities to solve the problem by phone or email.

As a result, by having a highly responsive service system, businesses can dramatically reduce the number of social media ‘disasters’ they experience.

  1. Gamification

Traditionally used for rewarding customers, gamification can also be effectively used for employee recognition.

Many employee gamification programs focus on the ‘employee of the month’. However, the problem with this is that the top 10% of employees tend to win time and time again, giving the remaining staff little to motivate them.

The most innovative motivation and recognition systems are now setting targets for improvement aimed at the bottom 2/3 of employees – creating significant opportunities for raising the overall average of the contact center.

Find out how our gamification system, Motivate for Service, could help to keep your team motivated.

  1. Video and vines

Consumers are becoming less and less likely to read long reams of text – making video the most effective way to provide education on products.

Numerous companies are now using humorous videos to get their message across. John uses the example of Zip Car’s ‘Extend Your Zipcar Reservation’ video, which turns an otherwise dull problem into a humorous soap opera, whilst at the same time conveying several points of key information.


What constitutes ‘great’ customer service is constantly evolving, and businesses need to keep up with the latest technologies in order to compete. Find out more about the innovative technology that can help differentiate your SMB from the crowd with our eBook, ‘Small Business Guide to Cloud Communications’ – or listen to the full webinar, Customer Experience 3.0: Ten Critical Technologies to Transform Customer Engagement.

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Written by Vonage Staff

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