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In an Ever-Changing Digital World, It’s Still All About Serving the Customer

TaraKelly_SPLICEIn this special guest feature, Tara Kelly of SPLICE Software examines the growing atmosphere of data-driven client relationships and how traditional tried and proven techniques are still useful. Tara Kelly is President & CEO of SPLICE Software, a B2B company with a strong focus on the customer experience, both for clients and their end customers.. 

Many big companies today use a variety of sophisticated technologies to learn a great deal about their customers. We can track what they like, what they spend, what they search for, where they go and how often they return. Yet, despite all this new “data” and the insights it can deliver, customers still appreciate good, old-fashioned customer service.

In fact, customer service has become the distinguishing competitive element in the business world today. And those brands that offer their clients the quality customer service they want have a much better chance of securing a stable position in the industry.

One example can be seen in the area of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which is still driving strong growth in the tech sector with growth rates projected to reach 20 percent, according to Forrester analysts. An increasing share of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are SaaS-based – a key driver is that outsourcing IT and infrastructure maintenance to the SaaS provider saves companies a lot of money.

However, companies need to be careful that they don’t mistake the technology for the relationship; even in the SaaS age, the personal touch matters.

Unfortunately, for too many of today’s businesses, technology tools that offer a great way to manage data, augment customer communication and plan strategies become instead a way to withdraw from customers and avoid personally interacting with the people they serve. This can ultimately lead to lost opportunities to improve products, as well as take away the chance for employees to shine during customer interactions.

As more and more companies automate products and service delivery, good personalized customer service is the way to differentiate themselves from the competition. Relationships – built via good old-fashioned conversations and in-person collaboration – allow customer service and product development professionals to spot new opportunities for innovation and partner with clients and customers to help them become more successful.

The key to maximizing the value of the personal touch is to make sure employees not only understand the brand, but also give them the power and time to embody it in their own way.

For example, a SaaS solution that helps client companies manage customer contacts at a call center or retail establishment can be a great tool, but it can be even better when the SaaS provider takes the time to visit the client onsite and see for themselves how the client regularly uses the technology. This level of interaction not only strengthens interpersonal relationships – and consequently makes the relationship between the two companies stronger – it can lead to exciting new product features and solution development.

Keep in mind: Helping a client find success may involve providing support when a problem arises, or perhaps spotting a fresh new application for an existing technology, and it will definitely require a great product.

However, at the end of the day, it also will require a great relationship. The digital world offers many advantages in speed and scale, but it still makes good business sense to always relate to your customers on a personal level. Remember: No matter what business you are in, there is still a human being on the receiving end, and that human being has a name, a face and feelings.

While the digital landscape is always changing, and new technologies will continue to emerge, old school customer service behaviors will never go out of style. And a brand that offers unparalleled customer service is one that will acquire the “secret sauce” to ultimately attract customers to their product offerings.

 

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