The quality of services and service deliveries has always, to a high extend, been evaluated on basis of the direct human interaction. But is this still valid? Or is technology now fundamentally changing the way many services are designed and delivered?
Do you remember the times where credit cards only belonged to the few, the times where you needed to face your bank teller before collecting your pay check or started your travel bookings by visiting the traveling agency nearby?
Nowadays we see several trends in how service technology increasingly is influencing the ways service providers interact with customers. We explore the top trends below.
The move from personal service to automation and self service
Previously, when facing a service delivery, you were met with service personnel ready to support you all the way through your customer journey.
Today, and due to the emerging impact of technology, we see more and more examples of self service and automated service solutions.
These include online airline check-in, self-service checkout lanes in retail stores, gas pumps and supermarkets.
When calling up customer service, you are more likely to be met with an automated operator rather than a human one, just like clever language software programs are likely to be the ones responding to you when reaching out via email.
In many instances, self-service technologies and automated back-office services can directly be considered as a huge win for us as consumers.
Now consumers can receive service on their premises, avoiding wasting time in long queues and get our inquiries processed faster than ever. And as the operational costs of companies’ decrease, services can also be delivered at a much lower cost.
Companies, however, must be aware not to alienate customer segments not comfortable using self-service and automated technologies as well as balance the danger of losing the human touch as part of the process.
The portfolio of accessible services is increasing
With the world wide web also came a world without boundaries. Or in other words, technology has now expanded our potential to reach out to customers around the globe in ways that were not to be dreamed off in the not so distant past.
While we previously commonly serviced consumers locally, with one click, service and transactions today can move across continents and countries reaching anyone possible with access to the world wide web.
Recognizing that these global service deliveries primarily account for digital services also means that companies free up space that before was locked to costly physical inventories.
Consider service giants such as Amazon and Netflix.
Due to technology advancements they can now offer a great portfolio of services at the lowest cost possible, while reaching all web connected customers around the world.
The rise in consumer data
When talking about self-service delivery, automation and an increase in online services, some critics point to the idea that service deliveries increasingly will become less and less personal. But does this mean that we sooner or later will lose the human touch?
Not necessarily. It depends on how good we are at balancing the great things technology can provide us with as well as our sense of what defines quality service.
The thing is that technology gives us more than automation and the ability of providing service at a lower cost. It also gives us the opportunity to gather customer data, analyse customer data and use the data analysed to better meet customers’ needs.
As companies we can then use these findings and insights to adjust and personalise our service offerings and deliveries to better increase customer satisfaction and service experience.
As we’ve seen in other industries, Netflix analyses user behaviour data to be able to offer suggestions for new movies to watch, while online booking services such as Hotels.com analyse user behaviour data to be able to recommend the best hotels to its users based on previous search and behavioural patterns.
Through our partnership with IBM Watson and by using sensor technologies, we at ISS use these data and insights to create more personalised service experiences that cater to the needs and well-being of the individual people occupying a building. We now can understand how people move around an office space, which services they prefer at which times, where the service creates the most value and the reverse.
There is no doubt that using these data, and having the ability to act on them wisely, will be one of the key sources of competitive advantage for companies in the future.
How have you experienced technology changing service deliveries? And what do you expect to see more of in the future? Share your comments right below.
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