Customer Feedback

How to Use Data to Humanize Customer Service

Drew Berger
5 min read

Automated customer service is nothing new–look at systems that automate telemarketing for example–but as more and more customer service interactions are handled by technology rather than human interaction, the paradigm shift’s negative effects are felt more heavily.

What companies are finding out is that the human element has to stay present in all aspects of customer service, from helping customers understand your product line or services to gauging their satisfaction after the conversion process is complete.

In this post, we talk about how to keep the human aspect in your brand with a little help from the data you collect on your customers.


Focusing on the Human Element Doesn’t Mean We Should Ignore Data

Quite the opposite, actually. While it was previously thought that we could set algorithms and leave all the customer service responsibility to analytics- metrics like customer recommendations, returning customers and others, now we see that businesses have to tailor their use of data to provide that an element of human interaction remains a key part of the customer experience.

But how can we meld humans and technology? There are four ways to go about it.

1. Give Employees Wearable Customer Service Technology

One area booming in the sector of tech startups is the creation of more responsive restaurant reservation software. These programs are usually apps that restaurant managers and other employees can access from a wearable or portable device, like a smart watch or tablet, and monitor new reservations and customers that enter a food service establishment.

What this achieves is a high level of customer service being driven by data, but carried out by actual humans, keeping the intimacy of human interaction in impactful customer experiences.

2. Utilize the Latest in POS Software

If your B2C business deals in actual physical products, eschew the traditional cash register model for a more advanced and superior alternative. Traditional point of sale (POS) systems run on slower software and are not very diverse, which means at the very least, you run the risk of your customers being frustrated by your store’s inability to carry out efficient business.

By relying on outdated POS technology, the additional benefits that you might be missing out on, however, are not so instantly clear. Modern POS software is easy to use with a tablet or lightweight terminal at checkout and their capabilities are so much more.

Most of the latest POS software offers additional options directly in the palm of your hand, so to speak, including supply chain management and marketing analytics.

Point-of-sale systems aren’t just cash drawers anymore. In the 21st century, a POS system can allow you to be more receptive to advanced customer service interactions, person to person.

These systems, when combined with data collection services like SurveyGizmo, can help you identify new opportunities for growth and improvements by tracking customer service interactions at a human level.

3. Build a Responsive Social Media Strategy

Social media is one of the first channels a customer will take too after a particularly memorable interaction with a company, positive or negative. An executive at a New York hospitality company says to take all feedback in stride, and be responsive: “what you want to do is pour gasoline on the good fires and tamp down the bad ones.”

Basically, social media is where customers vent, get referrals, and make many of their buying decisions, so to not enter the social media sphere is to abandon tons of potential business. Luckily, we have data to provide a quick view of social media’s massive effect on customer experience and loyalty:

Consumers are 71% percent more likely to buy an item if they recieve a referral from a contact on social media. On the flip side, 88% of customers are less likely to buy from a brand that has unanswered complaints on Facebook or Twitter and 42% of customers that complain expect a response in under an hour.

Human customer service professionals must take this data to heart. This is how data and real, personal customer service meld; data produces insight into the the average desired customer experience and it’s left up to the customer service team to make it happen.

4. Use Surveys to Tease Out Key Analytics

Surveys have long been used to gauge customer interactions, but the old methods aren’t cutting it anymore. Simple 10 question survey formats don’t tease out major insights about customer experience–alone, that is. Customer experience surveys will still be useful when used with a major customer service analytic, Net Promoter Score (NPS).

NPS data shows that sometimes, the most complicated metrics are the simplest to draw out, by asking a single question: “How likely are you to recommend this business to a friend or colleague?”, with a scale of 0 to 10. This doesn’t just separate your customers into categories of promoters, passives, and detractors, it shows your business’s overall customer loyalty on a numerical scale.

SurveyGizmo gives users the ability to embed customized surveys on their sites and mobile platforms that draw out more data about a customer than traditional surveys, giving data a large role in the customer service process without automating it completely.


Data Alone is Ineffective

As a Forbes article from 2016 observes, sometimes the companies that lean on analytics and data the most have the lowest NPS rating, and that’s no accident.

What we’ve learned over the past 5 to 10 years is that data’s role in customixing customer service for the individual’s peak customer experience is neither all-encompassing nor nonexistent.

Data should be used to preserve and promote the human element of customer service, whether through surveys that gauge the customer experience or through the numerous other modern methods developed to increase the effectiveness of the interactions between businesses and their community.

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