Providing automated customer care systems via websites is set to be the biggest investment priority for companies looking to build on their existing customer care programmes over the next twelve months. According to research carried out with 5,000 businesses by Virgin Media Business, 37 per cent of firms are planning to beef up their automated self-service capabilities this year to meet increased customer demand.
Over half (58 per cent) of companies said they believe the level of customer care they offer helps them to stand apart from the competition. To help maintain the competitive advantage, businesses are now investing in tools that allow customers to deal with an issue without needing to speak to an employee. Less than a quarter (21 per cent) of the businesses we spoke to currently offer this to customers, the next most important investment priority for firms is establishing an automated text messaging service (22 per cent).
Phil Stewart, Director Customer Services at Virgin Media Business, said: “As we all become more digital, we expect to be able to contact businesses at any time with questions, queries or complaints. For businesses this poses a real problem in terms of staffing this demand. In part because of the way social media works, people want to be engaged as quickly as possible. Yet for most businesses, they simply can’t afford to have someone staff a customer helpline 24/7.”
“In response, we’re seeing companies invest in social media. Nine per cent are increasing their use of Facebook, with six per cent investing in Twitter. But the priority is with automated ‘e-Services’ that can respond to customers around the clock. It’s not a replacement for speaking to people directly, but can help point people in the right direction for information or simply acknowledge an enquiry.
These tools can help companies be leaner in the way they deal with customer enquiries and ensure that opportunities aren’t missed simply because of resourcing issues.”