How Technology Enhances The Customer Service Experience

A friend of mine is having her house remodeled and has told me how frustrating the process has been. The contractor is very talented and the work produced seems of good quality, but the path of getting to that point has been rocky to say the least. The designer only works with pen and paper and only physically mails, delivers, or faxes plans. The contractor doesn’t have a system to communicate schedules and deadlines, nor an easy way to update cost estimates. This has led to several days of delays, uncertainty of cost, and lack of clarity surrounding when work was to be done. Needless to say, a frustrating customer experience. It doesn’t have to be this way.

A solid customer experience strategy pays off with higher referral rates, stronger customer satisfaction and loyalty, and an improved differentiation over competition. Yet a report by eConsultancy found that only 20% of companies have a customer service strategy. There are a lot of opportunities for those companies willing to invest in building awesome experiences for their customers.

How can you use technology to improve your customer’s experience?

The key is understanding all of the points where your customer comes in contact with your business. Marketing, purchasing, and service/support are all very different touch points that need to be managed uniquely yet consistently. The same people that sell probably aren’t the same people that actually perform your service. At NorthStar, we use several technologies at each of our 3 primary touch points to build a consistent experience. Here are some tools we use:

Sales and Marketing Tools

The first contact point with prospects and customers is through our marketing and sales teams. The key to a satisfying experience lies in ease of gathering information on our solutions, salesperson interaction, and eventually how easy it is to buy.

Website – Is your website just an online brochure or are you trying to carry on a conversation with your prospect? IT is very complex with thousands of solutions and options for nearly every problem. Our goal for our website revival is to simplify our message and allow us to speak directly to people whom would most value from our services.

Marketing ToolsInfusionSoft handles our email communication with our customers through intelligent use of tagging prospects automatically based on their interests. This allows our customers and prospects to only receive information on things they’re really interested in.

Quoting and proposalsQuoteWerks is our proposal and quoting tool and we use it to provide detailed and easy-to-read quotes and proposals. The customer can easily contact us to order, or optionally, they can utilize the QuoteValet add-on to allow online viewing of the quote, easily change quantities or add additional products/services and perform a one-click order.

Service Delivery Tools

We use three primary tools to deliver a good customer experience from our IT Managed Services.

Autotask is our main tool that handles our service desk ticket notes, project plans, and internal workflows. Autotask has a web interface portal that we provide to our customers to easily report issues, see status of open requests and projects, and even provide a co-managed service desk to customers with IT people. Making it easy to request help, see the status of anything they requested, and provide self-service options greatly improves how our customers normally interact with IT daily.

Labtech is our technical diagnoses, reporting and automation tool that allows our team to focus on customer interaction by letting the software handle patching, software installation, auto fixing of common issues, and scheduled maintenance tasks. The human side of IT is too often neglected today, leading to dissatisfaction. Through automation of typically manual processes, our people can actually talk to our customers.

BrightGauge is our real-time executive reporting portal that aggregates all of our business intelligence info into an attractive reporting solution. This tool saves our customers a tremendous amount of time by allowing fast access to their IT health score, inventory information, and summaries of what types of problems we work on.

Customer Feedback Tools

Consistent ongoing pulse-reading of customer satisfaction is crucial to ensure good experiences stay that way.

At NorthStar we use several methods to generate feedback on how we’re doing and what things we should do to improve the experiences our customers have working with us. Through Autotask, we ask for feedback on every issue we work on and this data is aggregated against scores across every Autotask customer. This allows us to compare our performance with our peers across the world and find opportunities for continuous improvement.

If my friend had access to quotes, could see project plans, and had the chance to provide relevant feedback to her construction contractor, I wonder how differently she would feel about her experience?

What tools does your company have for marketing, sales/purchasing, and service delivery? How do you get feedback on how you’re doing for them? I’d love to hear from you!

Posted on October 1, 2014 in Business, Technology

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About the Author

Ken Satkunam is President and founder of NorthStar Technology Group, a leading Information Technology firm in Fargo, ND. Since 1994 Ken has served nearly every IT role from technical support to CIO for organizations as large as 23,000 employees. His current role is to provide leadership and direction to his passionate team of engineers and strategic direction for NorthStar’s valued clients. Ken has been quoted in leading industry journals like eWeek and DM News on various technologies.
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