The changing face of customer service in 2013

change ahead sign

Social, mobile and cloud technologies are creating a massive change in the way Australian small businesses can work more efficiently, compete with larger global companies, and connect with their customers in entirely new ways.

The cloud is revolutionising the way businesses are adopting new technologies for customer service. Today, businesses of any size can “turn on” applications that run in the cloud and instantly have access to powerful, enterprise-grade tools that run on any web browser, tablet or smart phone. Many of these tools are low cost, and as with any true cloud computing application, they require no additional hardware or software. There are applications like Google Docs for document collaboration, Salesforce Sales Cloud for sales force automation, and Salesforce Desk.com for customer service.

Prior to the cloud, these types of tools were out of reach for many small to medium sized businesses. Today, they are providing a competitive edge. According research from AMI Partners, it’s predicted that SMB cloud spending alone will reach $100 billion by 2014, partly because cloud computing is the way to get enterprise-class technology at a fraction of the price of on-premise software, with minimal IT requirements, and quick deployment timelines. According to Pew Research, “By 2020, most people won’t do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Instead, they will work in Internet-based applications such as Google Docs, and in applications run from smart phones.”

Travel Insurance Direct knew all too well the challenge of managing fast business growth combined with skyrocketing customer queries across email, phone and social channels. The company went from one service team member to a team of 20 handling 11,000 customer queries a month. It needed a customer service solution that was quick to deploy, and could manage all of the customer service channels. The company deployed Desk.com, which lets them see all their customers in one place and engage them across all support channels (Twitter, Facebook, phone, chat and discussion boards), in a matter of hours. The company even customised its online help centre (powered by Desk.com) to match the look and feel of their existing website. The team is now able to use filters and workflow rules to route the easiest questions to the least experienced staff and the hardest questions to the most experienced.

The Social Revolution
There are more than 4 billion people on social networks today and the number of social networking users has surpassed e-mail users. Nearly a quarter of all time spent online is spent on social networks like Facebook. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks have become mainstream. This has created a social revolution that is transforming the way we do business. The success of an emerging business now heavily depends on the support of its customers, and the new social customer has placed unprecedented demands on multi-channel support.

Customers are no longer picking up the phone to get in touch with a business or brand. Instead they are turning to Google and to their friends and community on Facebook, Twitter and more. Australian businesses need to adapt in order to keep these customers for life. The companies that are closest to their customers will ultimately succeed – and this applies to plumbers and dry cleaners as much as it does technology companies or start-ups.

Desk.com allows any company, whether you have 10 employees or 10,000, to transform into a customer company. Saasu, an online accounting software company, is another Desk.com user. The CEO, Marc Lehmann, is passionate about customer service as a sales channel and believes in the importance of a streamlined customer support process through all channels – social and traditional. Marc’s team is using Desk.com to manage multiple service channels from phone to Twitter and LinkedIn with great success.

A great example of a customer that has embraced the social and mobile revolution is Smartsalary. The salary packaging and leasing industry is complicated. Smartsalary’s mission was to make customising their homes easier for customers and this has taken them down a path of social innovation.

Back when Smartsalary was founded, the company recognised that customer service was a great opportunity to delight customers, and in return those customers would help to grow the business.

Rapid growth was becoming a major challenge and it was increasingly difficult for existing systems to keep pace with the business, which was doubling every year: “We had to take control of growth otherwise growth was going to take control of us,” explains Chief Commercial Officer Dave Adler.

The company looked to Salesforce to deliver a better way to manage multiple large-scale processes without the customer being aware of any complexity. Salesforce exceeded all expectations, opening up a whole world of possibilities. Smartsalary has been able to reduce the car procurement cycle right down from 48 to four hours since moving its Sales, and now Service, processes into Salesforce and connecting with partners through Partner Portal.

The social revolution has delivered both a challenge and a huge opportunity for businesses of all sizes to understand the impact that social media is having on both sales and service, and to take advantage of that impact. Our focus is on helping companies realise that the world is going social and to take advantage of that shift through sales technologies, marketing technologies, and customer support applications that are social and help them engage with their customers in entirely new ways.

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