A recent NY Times article by John Grossman gives a snapshot of how various technologies are incorporated by small businesses for innovative, yet authentic customer service to the tech-savvy public.
1) Go high-tech for instant feedback and interaction
Grossman featured exotic sauce company Culinary Twist and its use of QR codes on product labels. Shoppers read the codes with their smartphones to instantly pull up recipe suggestions and electronic coupons which can be scanned at the store register.
The service is provided by OpinionLab, which also allows Culinary Twist to receive feedback on its products, comments on the store it was purchased at, and anything else the customer wants to relay—it’s a direct link to the company’s open ears.
Here’s a notable quote from Rand Nicerkson of OpinionLab: “It’s not true anymore that only the Procter & Gambles of the world can afford to do this. You don’t have to run a wave of $100,000 focus groups across the country to learn things anymore. The most successful companies in the future, I believe, will be those who become progressively more and more customer-driven.”
2) Lots of customers prefer electronic communication over face-to-face or phone calls
It seems our fingers do a lot of our communicating nowadays. That’s an observation that online jewelry store Whiteflash incorporated into its customer service.
Whiteflash, according to Grossman, heavily relies on online chat boxes on its website. Most of its male customers are more comfortable with this form of communication versus phone dialog. Online chat with sales reps also allows customers to remain discreet, whether they’re communicating from work, or at home with their girlfriend in close proximity.
3) Software can help you help your customers help themselves
Grossman looked at two companies that enhanced their websites with custom DIY software that improved revenue substantially.
Great Clips, a chain of hair salons, realized walk-in wait times caused a ton of lost customers. To stop the bleeding, it developed an online check-in system so customers can view real-time wait times at nearby locations. Customers can then add their name to a wait list at the most convenient salon. According to one franchise owner, the online system has accounted for 10 percent of his business.
The second company is Riten Industries, an industrial production tool company. It implemented a DIY software on its website so customers who need a customized part can design it easily, then submit it for a quote. By offering this service, the company tapped into a huge market; and the company has nearly doubled in size since.
Customer service is evolving. Since technology is driving the change, it’s a necessity to take on technology that complements your traditional customer service forms.
(Photo credit – aaipodpics)