(The modern consumer and the customer service or help desk)
Over recent years, Companies have changed the way they provide customer service. The customer service desk now uses numerous technologies and methods of communications. Customers not only expect service to come through traditional methods (ie. Being able to telephone a customer service representative at a call center) but through other means of communications, especially the internet.
The Evolution of the Customer
Why has the help desk evolved into the service entity we know today? The information and technology ages have led to a very informed, knowledge seeking, and independent consumer. Since the dawn of Ralph Nader, the printing of Consumer Reports, the public has been encouraged to educate themselves and take matters into their own hands. Add the Internet and the billions of pages of information that are available keystrokes away, and you are dealing with a very informed yet information hungry, take-charge public, who expect fast and accurate answers during their hectic, fast paced lives.
Keeping Up With The Pace
In the customer service arena, you could now say that we are dealing with "Generation Self-Help". A majority of consumers are not only web-savvy but technically literate and they look for the most efficient way to address their issue or find an answer to their question, regardless of the time of day. The result has been an increase of online self-help options. Every organization, from government agencies to utilities, product manufacturers, schools and medical services are offering self-help customer service options. Many organizations are opting to provide an online help desk that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This online help desk is not necessarily manned 24/7, but is always open and available to the online community. Help desk agents address issues during normal business hours. Packaged help desk software is available for companies to facilitate this type of online customer service.
Providing the Tools
When it comes to looking for a self-help, help-desk package, the following two basic features are what most companies need to enter this new customer service arena.
- Customer Self-Help Library of Information - Customers now expect to find a self-help library or expect to search a knowledgebase of information
- Online service request forms - Cut administrative time by allowing customers to write their own help desk tickets. Forms can be completed 24/7 and addressed by agents during normal business hours. Allowing Customers to check on the status of their open tickets is also a plus.
Although self-help options can increase customer service satisfaction levels while reducing help desk costs, there still is and will be the need for "customer hand holding". Customers still want to know that a live person is available to help them. This "live person" theory has evolved from the traditional phone conversation with the call center or help desk to new online, instant chat options. Future generations of customer self-help are likely to include wide use of video streaming; the face behind the voice enabled by increased broadband.
One thing is for certain. The help desk is here to stay; only it's methodology will adjust to technology and the ever evolving, enlightened consumer.
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