What is a Customer Service Platform?
The customer service platform is a part of the company’s customer relationship and management infrastructure. Often referred to as the central point of customer relationship management, this is where all the customer contacts are managed (nowadays with the help of customer management software).
Customers use the customer service platform’s support to resolve their issues related to products and services that the company offers.
Customer experience management platforms are a gateway to engage with customers across varied channels, unlike call centers that rely just on phone calls. With the emerging trend of social media interactions, their demand is increasing with every passing day.
Hence, customers are using a range of channels like email, webchat, social media, and phone calls to access customer service and support. These platforms leverage a multichannel approach and advanced technologies like automatic call distribution, outbound dialers, and integrated voice response.
In simple words, what used to be known as call centers, have now evolved into customer service centers that use customer management software to interact with customers when, where, and how they choose to.
It’s not just enough for a company to have a fully functional call center; they need to provide an all-around experience for their customers. Using the customer communication management software, businesses are personalizing customer care support, which eventually helps them retain customers for the long term.
Now let us discuss some of the types of customer support centers.
Types of Customer Support Centers
Hardware Customer Service Centers
These function within the premises of the business location and depend on the location that has sufficient space to host the physical servers. Not only the host but the business needs to have sufficient space to maintain the servers and adequate technology to do constant upgrades. Alongside, there must be enough hardware to initiate the recovery process in case of a server crash.
Cloud-based Customer Service Platform
These provide easy access to business services in this era of the web-based world. The cloud-based customer service software contains the global infrastructure for deploying and maintaining complex services in business communications.
This facility is available everywhere and is hosted on the internet server of the cloud-based customer service providers, where all the inbound and outbound communications filter. Cloud-based software provides greater reliability, multi-functionality, and greater global connectivity.
Hosted Customer Service Centers
In this type, the central point of inbound and outbound communication of an organization is outsourced to another provider’s systems. It lowers operational costs and offers a scalable alternative to Hardware customer service centers.
This configuration attracts a better Return on Investments (ROI) to the companies. Thus, companies can provide better and efficient customer services with the deployed costs.
Virtual Customer Service Platform
While a virtual customer management platform is similar to hosted customer service centers, it is essentially a cloud-based customer support solution that results in better security and flexibility. Not to forget, there is a significant reduction in operational costs by using this type of customer service platform.
Customer Service Platform vs Call Center
Channels of Communication
The most basic difference between the two is the mode of communication. Call centers use only the telephonic channel and the communication happens in real-time. Given that during the peak hours the call volumes shoot up, so there is a need for staffing to handle the volume. As a result, running a large organization often becomes an expensive endeavor.
On the contrary, customer service centers use all kinds of channels as per the need - chats, emails, social media - for communication. They use customer service management software, which facilitates better customer experience and solutions and given the digitally advanced world, keeping up with the evolved needs of the customers requires technologically advanced software. Hence, in comparison to using the telephonic medium, the customer service center is much more efficient and cost-effective.
Traditional vs Digital
Traditionally, with the call centers, customers needed to contact the support with every issue they faced. Since call centers rely on the telephonic medium for communication and customer data, they are not able to predict customer issues.
However, with growing customer demands, there is a need for businesses to proactively provide solutions and constantly tweak customer experiences. Customer service is exceedingly relevant as this can make or break the business.
Thus, since customer service centers operate on the web with the help of customer service management software, they deliver highly proactive customer support as compared to the traditional call centers.
Unified Customer Support
The primary center of a call center is the phone, so telephonic conversations are the only customer data collected. Therefore, call centers do not provide an integrated view of the customer’s behavior and preferences. It is the opposite in the case of a customer service platform.
Customer experience management platforms have a data repository of their customers, which provides the businesses with a 360-degree view of the habits. Along with that, businesses upgrade their technology to integrate automation platforms and team collaboration software to give their customers an engaging and delightful experience.
With call centers, customers need to reach out to support assistance through the phone only. This is often an arduous and painstakingly long process as customers need to wait to reach the call center agents. They rely entirely on the timings and management of the support team.
In the case of the customer service platform, customers have the option of live chats and chatbots where they can raise an issue. Moreover, if it is not solved at the spot, an agent is seamlessly assigned to the customer.
The agent already has prior knowledge about the issue from the data present in the customer management software and this makes the experience of the customer very coherent.
Queue Management in Omnichannel
A call center operates on a single channel that is the phone support even though there is multichannel support available. There is customer service management software that does queue management which enables all customer queries on one platform and seamlessly distributes it across the team. Hence, this customer service platform is ultimately effective in workload management.
What are the Benefits of a Customer Service Platform?
Customer engagement is a top priority for all, and omnichannel customer service software is driven towards increasing the dialogue between the customer and the company.
Some customer service centers provide self-service software, which customers take advantage of without relying on an agent. Having a multichannel customer service platform opens up the customers to a world of possibilities and earns their trust and loyalty, which is beneficial to the brand name.
Today customers want quick solutions, so the customer experience management platform needs to be steadfast. The customers should be able to jump through multiple channels with relative ease, and businesses are expected not to drag out the time frame of solving these hiccups.
With the help of the customer service software, businesses can now offer live chats and telephonic support, answers to customers’ queries via social media channels, and give faster replies to their emails. Besides, a business will already have access to the history of the sales and customer behavior, and they can take the required action instantly.
Single View of the Information
One of the key benefits of a customer management platform is that businesses can stream all their requisite information in one place even though they provide support across multiple channels. For example, if the customer jumps from voice support to social media support and then to live chats, the business would still be able to retain all their information in a single file.
The information will be accessible by agents of the customer service center at any point so as to give more efficient support to the customer. This single view of the customer data provides better analytics as it understands the preferences and behavior in an efficient manner.
This aspect is often the least talked about benefit. Customer service software have all the necessary data related to the customer at their fingertips. Also, the customer service center is in an excellent position to offer advice associated with the products and services offered by the company, which is not the case with the traditional telephonic agent.
While in the case of an unknown seller, pushing a product might be disturbing to the customer, a customer service platform can make the sale with the past history and interactions and can create a better impact overall.
With a unified window of all customer data and a large repository of customer data, it is easy to get access to the customer behavior data. When companies have sufficient knowledge about customer behavior and segments, they can tweak their marketing campaigns or sales tactics based on customer needs.
Thus, customer service analytics have become more efficient in a customer experience management software setup.
The Need for an Omnichannel Approach for Companies
The omnichannel customer service platform provides a superior uninterrupted customer experience through the communication channel of their choice - either in the form of a chatbot or a live agent or any other channel - in real-time service options.
An Omnichannel approach helps the customers move harmoniously through the services and elevate their experiences in the best possible way as the consumer preferences change with time.
Queue management in omnichannel integrates chatbots with live agents for a seamless customer experience which saves time and improves customer service.
This approach builds customer loyalty, and issues are resolved more efficiently. With advanced and seamlessly connected channels, when customers raise an issue through any inbound digital medium, the agents can trace their entire journey and find the problems they are facing.
When customer relationship management tools are integrated into the system, advanced routing technology directs the customer to the exact department they want. This helps with the personalization of the customer’s needs.
The omnichannel approach also offers consistency across the channels through an advanced user interface and standards that companies struggle to provide through digital communications. Cloud-based customer service solutions are the essence of an effective omnichannel approach.
The customer service platform is coordinated across the channels, along with service agents and teams, which helps the customer relationship management team handle a large volume of queries over integrated applications. This essentially also helps in mapping the journey of the customer online and keeping track of their behavior and satisfaction.
Customer service software aids in removing the customer frustration and helps the customers in navigating through the company’s website and customize their preferences through this omnichannel approach.
Along with this, Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a tool to aid in customer engagement has also severely boosted the need for an omnichannel approach. With AI as a key performance indicator, customer rating shoots up by 104%, and among the success group that uses this technology to track their customer satisfaction, 50% use the omnichannel initiative. The demand for solving queries over social media is also amplifying. Therefore, amping up customer support through an omnichannel customer support platform is the need for the companies’ hour.
With the boom in customer management software and their low-cost operations, there has been an increase in customer-centric growth and omnichannel integrations. In a nutshell, the era of the traditional call center is slowly fading due to a lack of efficient customer service agents and poor customer satisfaction.
What is the Role of Customer Service Platform Technology?
The rise in customer service platforms is attributed to an increase in the usage of technology to mediate between the company and the customer. There has been a revolution in the overall customer experience, which is combined with high expectations and top-notch quality. As more and more companies adopt the customer management platform, customers are expecting much more and rendering the previously accepted standards of services unsatisfactory.
With the rise in the digital medium and cloud-based customer service solutions, there is personalization, automation, and customization of customers’ needs. More than 80% of businesses depend on quality service for customer retention, so adopting customer experience management software is their best business interest. This maximizes their revenues and makes them competitive on a global level.
Some of the notable technology trends improvising the customer experience are:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool
Every day, a business deals with a wide variety of customers. The Customer Relationship Management tool is one of the essential tools under the customer management platform.
The operations team and the marketing team regularly need the customer data to track and analyze their behavior to gain a holistic view of the customer interactions and buying behavior. Thus, an effective technology framework to improve customer experience is what makes up for good Customer Relationship Management.
Computer Telephony Integration or CTI
It is one of the most convenient and best customer support platforms for agents as they do not have to deal with telephones, and they can implicitly control their calls. There are various tools available under Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), including
- automated screen pop, which makes the agents aware of who is calling and they can view the detailed information about the caller,
- automatic authentication, where agents can compare the phone number and pull out information from their database and business tools,
- integration of call logs, where data related to the caller (call history, transcripts, and metrics) are kept under one unified dashboard.
Automatic Call Distributor or ACD
This customer service software manages all the incoming calls received and applies pre-set conditions to forward the call to the available or the best-suited agent for the customer.
Not only is this efficient for the customer, but there are sufficient operational savings for the company as well. Intelligent routing of customer calls enhances call response as well as improves the time in which the issues are resolved by the customer service center.
Integrated Voice Response (IVR)
With the increased use of digital mediums and technology, customers prefer to solve their issues themselves. Integrated Voice Response is a telephonic technology that uses segmentation, identification, and routing to direct the callers to the suitable agent.
It enables the agents to configure a personalized message, use a pre-recorded message for the customer, prioritize calls based on the value of the customer, route the caller to the appropriate department according to their need, and automate customer support.
This restructures the workflows in the call center through technology implementation in the customer service platform. With a unified interface working in the company, all the customer data can be brought into the company’s communication channels.
Ultimately, customer service agents can take stock of the situation and manage the inflow and outflow of the customers.
The Future of the Customer Service
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Let’s talk about the obvious. Artificial Intelligence is the future, and industry experts predict that this advanced technology will take up 85% of customer inquiries by the end of 2020. Therefore, a lot of companies are planning to switch their customer service solutions to chatbot and Machine Learning Technology.
Switching to AI will boost productivity by freeing the customer support agents to take upon high-level clients. It moreover has the ability to extract vital business inputs from large volumes of data in a short period of time that can provide insights to enhance the customer service experience.
Data Analytics and Reporting
The Customer Service agents will be in a better position to understand the needs of the customer they are servicing if there is an effective analysis of all the incoming data. In both inbound and outbound customer service centers, data analytics usage is to optimize customer interaction, surveys, and reporting.
For example, using contact service software, speech analytics can be used to evaluate the customer service agent’s performance or understand the demands of the customer.
A tool used to monitor the reputation of the brand online, sentiment analysis is also used to analyze customers’ comments and impressions in calls, texts, or social media.
It helps determine the attitude and opinions of targeted customers about the brand’s marketing campaigns and product lines. This is inevitably used to route the customer based on their sentiment to the appropriate agent.
Sentiment analysis relies on computational linguistics and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to mine data from social media, blogs, and reviews. Therefore, this provides insight into the customer’s thought process and allows the company to be ready for the worst-case scenario.
API based Solution
APIs or Application Programming Interface is built into the customer experience management software. They act like building blocks that can develop an entire customer service platform.
These APIs provide a better customer experience and service, boosts productivity, reduces operational cost, and provides a global reach to the company. These APIs offer flexibility to grow along with the technology without worrying about hardware and operational planning.
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