Tuesday 27 September 2016

Customer service in the digital age

Published 30/03/2016 | 11:05

What kind of future does customer service have in a digital landscape?  Or does it have a future at all?

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Intercom is one Irish company that believes it can fix the disjointed and broken model and Brian Purcell spoke to Jeff Gardner, their Head of Customer Support, to find out the solution they're proposing.

In the words of their Irish founder, Eoghan McCabe, Intercom believes the current online customer service model is ‘f*&king broken’.  Their solution is obviously working as it’s a company that has raised $66m in funding so far, $35m of which was most recently in 2015.

“If you’re a company that has a support product, interaction is usually initially from a robot email,” explains Gardner.  “And you’re waiting for a response that is totally faceless and that you can’t even send an email back to.”

“With Intercom you’re told how long to expect to get a reply. You’ll be notified when someone gets back to you via your phone in the same way that Facebook messenger or WhatsApp does.

“Servicing customers through our platform enables you to be prompt and friendly and human with them be it through queries or bookings.  Customer service should feel like walking into your local pub where they know a bit about you and your background and that’s what we’re trying to do: to make digital interactions closer to personal ones.”

On this week’s Twitter poll, we asked our listeners, ‘what’s better when you need to speak with Customer Service? Online/Phone/In-Person?’

And interestingly, 37% voted for phone support, 31% for online chat and 27% for in-person support.

“It’s very interesting that people prefer in-person support,” admitted Gardner.  “But it is a good thing and shows that human connection is still important after all.   The lesson for digital communication is that it needs to bring that feeling of personality and human interaction, things you would do with your friends, to customer service online also.”

We’ll be running our Twitter poll every Friday on @independent_ie using the hashtag #readybusinessadvice so don’t forget to let us know the key business issues that you would like us to address.

The Ready Business show, in association with Vodafone, is available every Thursday via iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and Independent.ie. Or subscribe to the RSS feed of the Ready Business Podcast using your favourite podcatcher.

You can check out the full Ready Business Podcast series here.

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