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Shouldn’t Technology Adapt to the Customer?

Not everyone is ready for technology at every turn, although even the non-technical among us have adapted to the technology in our daily lives. Many have embraced it.

But technology should also adapt to us. Maybe even embrace us.

Enable the Customer

Business technology is a fact of life—every day, there’s more and more technology in the customer experience. While organizations have traditionally used technology to streamline processes, save money, et cetera, they’re now using it more and more to provide a better customer experience.

The fact is, the days of selling customers are gone. Modern, tech-savvy customers use the internet, social media and forums to investigate before they buy. They research. They don’t want to be sold, they want to be told.

By the time modern customers contact us, they’ve already narrowed down their choices and may only need confirmation of something or another piece or two of info to make their decision.

In the new customer service, it’s our job to help customers do their research—to provide them with information pertinent to their possible purchase. In many cases today, it’s not about selling or even helping the customer so much as enabling them.

Technology Is Essential

Customer experience is one place where we should be putting our energies for the foreseeable future.

“According to Ranchhod and Gurau, in the twenty-first century real progress will be made by customer-centric organizations that can truly understand how and why consumers or customers behave in the ways that they do,” says Daniella Ryding of Britain’s University of Central Lancashire.

In a paper titled The Impact of New Technologies on Customer Satisfaction and Business-to-Business Customer Relationships: Evidence from the Software Industry, Ryding studied how sales technology can affect the effort to build a relationship with a customer.

“The analysis reveals that technology is both beneficial and essential within the sales force industry for both the sales representative and their customers,” she wrote.

But It Should Adapt to the Customer

Automated voice, or IVR, has been around for a couple decades. Early on, it developed a bad reputation among customers, and it’s been fighting that bad reputation ever since.

Unfortunately, when organizations set up their IVR systems with themselves in mind rather than their customers, they create a frustrating business technology that customers don’t appreciate.

With the swing of focus towards customer service and the customer experience in the last couple years, companies are starting to understand they need to design their IVR systems from the customer up.

Researchers from the University of Rochester and University of Illinois have proposed designing IVR systems that adapt to individual callers. In Robust Design and Control of Call Centers with Flexible IVR Systems, the researchers propose that organizations design systems that route customers based on their unique needs.

By having “flexible IVR systems whose service modes can be dynamically adjusted for each customer,” organizations can provide customized experiences for each of their callers.

Instead of providing the same call menu for every customer, an IVR could ask a customer why they’re calling and assign them to the proper routing program or transfer them to a live agent for more complicated issues.

Non-technical customers are making an effort to adapt to technology. I think the least we can do is implement technology that adapts a little back.

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