Why Tech Support Must Change in the Age of the IoT
Feb 22, 2016
By: Kate Lynch We in the support world have been stuck in an old way of thinking. We wait for a customer to call in with a specific problem. We fix it, and we focus on the efficiency with which we perform those fixes.
However, with today’s explosion of interconnected devices for the home and business, and their complexity in terms of installation and operation, that old way of thinking won’t work anymore. This interconnectedness — the Internet of Things (IoT) — demands a new method of support. With customers having heightened expectations and increasing familiarity with technology, the practice of Customer Support has a unique opportunity to become more influential in customers’ evaluation of products and, therefore, of the brands behind them.
Today, customer support can and should be about fulfilling the product promise that the designers and developers intended. It’s about helping customers get more value out of the products and services they buy, from setup, through first use, through upgrade or replacement. And, most importantly, it’s about increasing brand loyalty.
This kind of support embraces customers throughout their entire experience of a product or a service, and adds value to the customers’ experience of the products they buy, making them far more likely to buy from your brand again.
Here are five key support changes for small- and medium-size businesses to address:
1. Support organizations will be expected to deliver support when, where, and in the form the customer prefers.
Millennial customers and, increasingly, older generations have less interest in and patience for calling tech support, waiting in a queue, describing the problem through lengthy question and answer sessions, and then potentially having to start the conversation over again with a more advanced tech support representative or supervisor.
The customers’ desire to choose their method of support will mean that tech support operations will need to enable chat, text, email, and interactive video support, in addition to phone support. And each of these channels will need to be context-sensitive, providing a more intelligent starting point for the support interaction.
2. The support team will need a guidance system at their fingertips.
Support representatives will have a more challenging job to do, because the configuration and use of data-driven devices is much more complex than what customers have been used to. It’s unrealistic to expect that every support representative will know everything there is to know about every issue on every single product or service available to customers.
They’ll need a guidance system that offers, in real-time during customer interactions, the best practices and tips for managing any service or product issue. They’ll need to be able to call up and utilize the proven methods of support to avoid having them reinvent the wheel as they do today. As customers continue to use more and more technology, they simply will not tolerate delays that are inherent in traditional support interactions.
3. Support teams will become the primary point of contact for upgrading and upselling customers.
This idea is not so far-fetched. Who has the most contact with the customer after purchase? Who knows more about a customer’s experience with a product or service? Who is the most logical person to discuss how additional products and services may make the customer’s life even easier? Of course, it’s the support team.
The value of the support function is increasingly being tied to its ability to protect and generate revenue. In 2012, the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) found that 51.4% of survey respondents ranked the need to increase sales and profitability as a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. And a recent Internet search of job listings for customer service or customer support representative roles will show most of them now include the responsibility of cross selling and/or upselling products or services.
4. Futuristic technologies like 3D printers are making their way into the home, and will require more advanced support.
Consider this example: By 2020, a high-quality 3D printer will be available at a price affordable for most average families, according to McKinsey’s May 2013 report on disruptive technologies. The 3D printing capability offers the potential to allow every consumer to set up his own mini-factory, breaking down thresholds and barriers for almost every industry.
If these predictions are correct, 3D printing technology could single-handedly spawn a new generation of garage industry, similar to the birth of the personal computer industry that began in Silicon Valley garages. What does this mean in the context of support? Whether it’s a consumer using the product in the home, or an entrepreneur building products with a 3D printer out of a garage, they’ll need support to get there — support in the way of setup, configuration, and optimal use.
And when machines and devices are this advanced, user manuals have definite limitations. They will need to be replaced by on-screen and interactive voice and video guidance for configuration, operation, and upgrade as well as troubleshooting.
5. Tech support specialists will need to engage with the customer at point of purchase and stay engaged through the product lifecycle, all the way through upgrade or replacement.
Simply put, customers expect more today of their products and their reliability than they ever have, and they expect to be supported at every stage. Brian Solis, a well-known futurist and expert on the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture, recently wrote:
The way we go about business is slowly dying. Connected consumerism says that things are not only changing, but are so radically different that the business models we have today cannot support a much more dynamic approach to the market. Even if you’re over the age of 35, if you use an iPad or social networks or apps, you slowly start to act like a Millennial. …The touch points, the screens we use, our expectations — we become more demanding, more informed and more connected.
Small- and medium-size businesses will need to be aware of these trends and ensure that their customer support services evolve accordingly over 2016 and beyond.
About the Author
Kate Lynch is the Director of Communications and Content for Support.
2015-2016 Support.com, Inc. Support.com is a registered trademark of Support.com, Inc. in the United States and other countries.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
/account/v2/editBillingDisplay,/orderhistory/subsManager,/orderhistory/submitReturn,/account/accountSummaryDisplay,/account/loginAccountDisplay,/account/myfiles,/csl/listAllhttps://request.eprotect.vantivcnp.com/eProtect/js/payframe-client3.min.js?d=20200812 Join Now