How Technology Changes the Way Businesses Communicate with Their Customers
⏱ Reading Time: 12 minutes
If we take a look back to several years ago, we’ll notice a huge change in the way customer service works. In the past, most of this work was done by humans with a simple phone call or letter. Today, this has become more sophisticated and with less human intervention. It’s exciting to see how technology changes affect the way we communicate with each other.
However, evolution comes with challenges and new habits. Are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning going to take all jobs in customer service? Does it work as efficiently as humans do in this field? And this surely isn’t going to stop here. We’ll see constant changes in the way that companies communicate with their customers.
13 Important Technology Changes
Optimized Email Process
With the optimization tools that we have these days, companies don’t need to spend too much time replying to inquiries. These tools allow them to automatically identify spam messages, do cold emailing without having to manually send a thousand messages, and organize their messages by subject or recipient.
This technology change has saved a lot of time that customer service teams had to spend on emails. Some of these tools are Streak, or Mailshake, which are very popular in the field.
Picture 1. With modern tools emails don’t have to take much of your time any more
One of the biggest benefits that companies can gain from AI is the ability to create a hyper-personalized experience for their customers. This technology change allows them to know their customers’ preferences, so companies can only offer items that users would be interested in. This creates a seamless and enjoyable user experience and increases brand engagement.
This process is done through machine learning and sentiment analysis. Sophie Miles, the CEO of the ElMejorTrato said, “The challenge will be focused on designing an Artificial Intelligence system capable of responding, interacting, and making decisions in a human way. Fortunately, you have companies working on that.”
Today, this is the major challenge companies are facing with machine learning. It’s still not perfect. However, it is a powerful tool that companies can utilize to boost their customer experience level.
Picture 2. Technology changes can make your customer experience personalized and more enjoyable
What’s the most common phrase everybody tells you when you’re trying to sell something? “Eye contact is very important”. And it’s true, but with the evolution of the internet, most people prefer to buy things online, and when they need customer service they’ll just email or call the company reps. There’s no eye contact there.
However, technology has brought a new trend in customer service and the Sales team—video voicemail and video conferences. Video voicemails allow the customer service team to leave a personalized message for customers answering their requests. This allows room for some human touch in the form of eye contact, which then creates empathy and sympathy. People are more open to chat with someone when they’re looking at them in the eyes.
Loom is one of the companies that provide this service. On the other hand, Zoom Cloud Meetings is currently the most popular one for video conferences.
Picture 3. Zoom is currently one of the most popular video conferencing tools
User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI)
The way that customers interact with your company is crucial. If you have a digital product like an app or software, this is going to be a major lead generator for your brand. However, this only happens if you have a great interface and your app or software is functional. That’s why these days UX/UI Design is becoming more important every time. According to statistics at WebFx, 94% of your company’s first impression comes from the functionality of your website.
A good understanding of UX and UI will create a seamless user connection with your interface. This is the reason why UX and UI designs are crucial in the communication that the company has with its customers.
Picture 4. Good UX/UI contributes to a good first impression of your company
Automated Voice Systems
Automated voice systems spare your customer service team from having to spend too much time answering calls and requests. These systems work with machine learning just like video voicemails.
It works this way—if a user calls to ask a question, the system provides the answer based on the data commands it has for that specific request. If the system doesn’t recognize that request, it’ll forward the customer to a human manager in the communication team. The only drawback of this system is that it usually is very expensive at first. But after a while, you’ll save a lot of money you’d usually spend on having a customer service team.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Communication Trends
Ever since the introduction of AI, companies have changed the way that digital marketing works. It’s not only about giving personalized responses but AI also covers a lot of ground in the customer service field. It helps companies analyze trends and forecast future habits that their customers will have, and it directly affects the way that companies approach their users. Through AI, brands can provide a more enjoyable experience for their companies and become just what users are looking for. Here are some AI communication trends that companies are using to interact with customers.
Chatbots are the most in-demand trend in the customer service industry. The reason for this is that chatbots can handle a large number of responses without spending too much time on them. In the end, they’re still robots. Chatbots are very convenient for companies because bots don’t need a salary or rest. Chatbots are available for customers every day at every hour.
You probably think this point right here is a little out of the place, but there’s an AI trend that is becoming more popular among customers—personal assistants like Alexa. According to a recent study conducted by Nielsen.com, 24% of US people use a smart speaker at their homes. This reveals how these smart speakers or personal assistants are gradually becoming a “typical” household item.
And since companies need to be everywhere users are, connecting with Alexa (or similar devices) has become a necessity for most brands. Companies can create an app that syncs up with Alexa so customers can easily access information about their products or services.
Customers could ask questions like, “Hi (insert name here), what’s the nearest McDonald’s location?” or “What’s the estimated cost for this pair of shoes at ZARA?”
It’s no surprise that this trend has become popular across all age groups. This is an innovative and smart technology change created to interact with users. And it won’t stop here… Gartner estimates in their study that smart speakers will generate more than $3.5 billion this year.
Picture 5. Personal assistants are becoming an important part of everyday life
The cryptocurrency world is not what’s going to change the way customers make purchases. It truly is a new way to interact, but what’s actually changing this dynamic is Blockchain. Transactions take time and money, and people need to verify when a transaction is made properly to avoid fraud. With Blockchain, this is not a problem anymore.
This system was created to provide transparency to the transactions process so that people can simply validate a transaction without having to spend too much time on them. Blockchain works with a data-based system, providing all parties with a single version of the records that gets updated once changes are made.
It simplifies the coordination and validation of the transactions. A Blockchain attorney called Braden Perry believes that Blockchain will play a huge role in customer communication in the next years: “Blockchain in industry, like Blockchain technology itself, is in its infancy, but on the peak of rapid expansion. Businesses that see the potential and are proactive in its adoption will likely be the frontrunners in innovation and ahead of the curve when the benefits are fully realized.”
Importance of Digital Marketing
With the growth of digital communication and technology changes in social media tools, digital marketing has become one of the most important ways for companies to interact with their customers. Traditional marketing is becoming less common with the rise of digital trends.
Digital marketing provides a vast amount of data that companies can use for their data analysis process and come up with new strategies for their marketing campaigns. Besides, digital marketing has increased the trend of hyper-personalization—a technique that can create a different level of customer engagement.
Real-time messaging has appeared in the equation and it has now taken a big part of customer service efforts. People want to have quick responses with round-the-clock availability. These days, there’s also such a feature in social media apps like Facebook that allows you to see the company’s response time. If it takes them too long to respond, customers won’t waste time even reaching out to them.
This is why it has become a necessity to have a response system that’s available on social media as well. Most companies also now have a real-time messaging feature on their website.
Self-Service Becomes a Necessity
Today, companies that are not placing efforts into changing their dynamic to a self-service model are losing a lot of money. It may sound crazy but think about it—most of our interactions with companies are self-service these days. Just think about what you do when you’re buying something on Amazon or eBay. Do you call them to ask them for a catalog or show you their latest trends? No, you go to their platforms, browse, find what you’re looking for and buy it. There’s no need for a vendor or cashier.
For companies, this is very convenient in the long-term because they will save a lot of money they’d typically spend on employees. However, they must spend on building an AI-driven system that supports self-service.
Data-Driven Customer Service
Data has played a huge role in recent years when it comes to customer service. There must be a way to measure your customer service efforts. That’s why customer service has become more dependent on data and the need for a data-driven customer service system has increased. The type of data influx varies, but some helpful insights show customer needs, requests, preferences, and satisfaction with their customer service interaction.
All departments could benefit from this type of data, especially the marketing team. With the help of a data analyst, companies are able to analyze the information provided on customer service interaction and come up with marketing strategies to improve their services or products.
Social Media Becomes a Standard Customer Service Tool
Social media has opened a new outlet for customer reviews. As users, we have probably left at least one review on a brand’s social media site—whether it was a good comment or a bad one. And we, humans, base our own opinion on other people’s perspectives. So companies have to create a good way to interact with customers on social media. Especially when it comes to reviews. Due to this trend, companies now have to find new ways to engage with customers on social media.
Less Human Intervention in Customer Service
It may sound apocalyptic to say, “robots will take our jobs”, but at certain points, they probably will. With automation and artificial intelligence, more tasks that were usually done by a human are now done through machine learning tools. However, this doesn’t mean that technology changes will annul human interactions. What it means is that humans will spend less time dealing with customer service tasks like speaking directly with every single customer, but they’ll spend it on more significant tasks.
Humans now spend more time improving the product or service itself or analyzing customers’ responses. There’s something that robots still can’t do and that is to have a sensitivity analysis. Robots don’t have human qualities such as empathy or sympathy, so there are tasks that will require human interaction. Without this, companies won’t be able to efficiently communicate with their customers and all efforts will only end in poor results.
Picture 6. Are robots going to replace humans?
Technology has changed several aspects of our daily lives, so it’s no surprise that it’ll change the way companies communicate with their customers. Although it doesn’t mean that robots will remove us from the equation in the customer service field, it surely means that artificial intelligence will play a big role in the way companies interact with users.
Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech. Reach out to him on Linkedin or Twitter.
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