What customer happiness and IT have in common

On one side of the coin, you have your people or the customers. On the other side, you have technology. Nowadays, it’s hard to do anything without the aid of technology. But it can also get in the way of having a personal touch. After all, as a company you often provide human service. So how do you make sure the technology still remains human?

Technology can improve customer relationships

I run a software company but I’m not much of a technophile at all. I don’t watch Netflix, nor am I a big fan of social media, and I don’t surround myself with the latest gadgets. If given the option, I would much prefer to have a conversation in person as opposed to a virtual meeting.

All these technological advancements sometimes make me feel that we are slowly losing our human side. I find that, as a company, it is crucial that you still check with yourselves from time to time. Are we still working well together as a team? How do you keep the team bonds strong? And how, with or without technology, will you build a good relationship with your customer?

Although it may sound contradictory, technology actually provides an opportunity to maintain or improve the relationship with your customer. With the use of technology, you can reduce hassle, and focus on the relationship. Ideally, you want as little as possible to come between you and your customer.

How exactly do you go about that? As a company, the first thing you have to do is choose which parts to automate and which not to. When doing so, it is important to get a clear view of the company’s goals: what is our vision, and which activities have a human added value to them? Or in other words: what is the customization I deliver to people?

To what extent you want to automate naturally depends on the type of product you provide. Say you have an online store for printer cartridges, like 123ink, you’re probably not the kind of company that puts a lot of focus on the personal relationship with the customer. With a business like 123ink, you actually make people’s lives easier by removing human contact out of the transaction. In other cases, human contact can be very important for the customer experience. And even then, technology can help.

More room for the human touch

Suppose you have a company that designs brochures. Before you can help a client create a beautiful design, you have to go through a list of standard questions with him. For example, what type of paper does the client want to use? Does the client want the brochure folded in threes or fours? And so on. With these standard questions, the relationship between company and customer does not necessarily add value. It is at this stage in the process where you benefit both the supplier and customer by automating this process. That automation creates more space for a process where customers are able to have a more personal and individual approach to the creative design of certain products.

Another example where the human approach remains important is at a training facility. You do not want to burden the course instructors with the registration process, or with scheduling appointments with course participants. Automating those processes as an institute leaves more room to focus on the quality of content in the course. Automating the database could also provide additional customer satisfaction. Suppose a student calls with a question, it would be nice if the person at the other end of the phone could immediately look up who is in front of him. He then knows immediately, for example, which exams this student is going to take, or what his knowledge level is. This avoids having to ask the customer a series of questions before he can be helped.

This is how technology helps us give the human side more space on the coin. And we should make use of it.


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