Similar to Italian Glass makers, Customer Service started with only the profit in mind and not the customer. By this I mean that Italian glass makers were originally creating staples that people would by in order to keep the glass business profitable. Then fires from the Kilns where glass was formed were causing houses in the town to burn down. The glassmakers were moved to an island so they would not be a hazard to the rest of the community. This isolated them. With this isolation, the Italian glass industry was easier to control and influence when it was in one particular place. For a while there was tremendous control over who went to the island to learn glassmaking and who left. In fact, if you left the island you could not work as a glassmaker somewhere else. However, because of this isolation, there was a tremendous cross-fertilization of ideas which led to the leading role of Venetian glass within Europe. Today, beautiful pieces of art are created by multi generation glass makers. For fun, watch a Virtuoso glass making artist in action Murano Glass Video
To understand how the customer experience evolved in the United States, let’s take a brief look at the history of how customers connected with businesses in it’s earliest forms:
- 1800 – Reach the seller – by horse – walk
- 1876 – Telephone invention! You could directly talk to the person you bought the product from and get direct information.
- 1894 – Women ran a switch board to connect you
- 1920 – Rotary phone helped you to dial the number and connect yourself
- 1960 – First call centers were invented
- 1967 – Toll Free number invented – no more collect calls – no more operators
- 1970 = IVR – an automated operator of sorts so you could press the right option and get to the right person without human assistance
- 1989- Outsourcing call centers – India
- 1991 – Invention of the internet – service at your command (mostly)
- 1996 – Email and Live Chat
It has been predicted by many sources that by 2020, Customer Experience will overtake price and product and the key brand differentiators. This brings us important factors to consider when understanding Customer Success in a business:
We are in the age of MultiChannel Customer Experience through the customer’s personal computer which is now their phones or wearable devices
Mobile may be the first customer experience with the increased use of mobile data and speeds reaching 5G, driven by social media, enhanced use of a plethora of apps, instant messaging, and chats – mobile has become the ‘go-to’ medium for all customer communications.
IoT and “Big Data’s” role is momentous
We have so much data now that companies are not sure what to do with it or how to analyze all of it. There are also competing opinions within companies about the what the data means. There will have to be major shift to consolidate and prioritize this data in order for companies to move forward and give an effective performance for the customer.
Self Service & Artificial Intelligence are Key Players
Your customers don’t want to get in touch with a contact center every time they hit a roadblock of face an issue. Therefore, they are most likely to switch to easy self-service options, and that is precisely why we are observing an upsurge in ‘in-app’ support and features. It will be imperative to get anyone working for a company prepared for what the customer is calling about and have the valid data from the customer in hand.
Customization of Location Based Services
Now there is the ability to track and migrate a customer engagement across all channels of communication. This tracking will be able to help businesses understand where customer’s go, but will it be a true sense of what the customer wants?
Value and Respect Customer’s Time
77% of consumers say that the number one most important thing companies can do to provide good customer service is to value and respect their time. This should be at the heart of your strategy when designing an Multi Channel approach for a quality Customer Experience
According to Aaron Smith, Apps have become the first part of the communication supply chain However, platforms like Twitter represent the “one-to-many” channels of service, where consumers can see the issue and get involved with it,”. “One of the ways to bring it back to the “one-to-one” approach is through apps,” According to Aaron Jacobs, while apps have proven to be a worthwhile approach, many brands have internal silos that embed the customer service inside the app, meaning that customer service teams don’t have much say in their evolution or development. “Secondly, consumers rarely download company apps unless they can practically live inside them, the examples being social media, lifestyle, and travel brands that can penetrate the majority of phones,” said Jacobs, closed the point with his hypothesis: “If you could offer a stellar customer service experience inside an app and offer an added benefits to the customer for using it, then it becomes worth downloading.”
One great example of a multichannel approach done well is the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. This is simple easy to understand and customers can choose what way they want to contact the Airlines if they can’t find the answer for themselves:
In the the United States, customer service was originally provided as a cost to the company and it was a need of the consumer. As faster and more communication devices were created, businesses felt the need to control communication and monitor it closely. Businesses wanted to isolate their Customer Service and Customer Experience channels. Some businesses still try to control the communication and service needs of their customer’s today. They want to protect their brand. However, if businesses want to succeed, they must know how to create customer experience as an art form. It needs to be unique, colorful, and inviting. Customer’s sympathy and patience is limited. The complexity of options to a customer produces constant change and anxiety for the customer. Customers can no longer be thought of as a group with the individual needs being ignored. Businesses will have to give an experience the customer wants live in and look at everyday. Is your Customer Service and Customer Experience at the stage of sophistication? Is it an art form?