Potential = Assumption: How Technology Enabled the Rise of Customer Care as a Service

If technology enables more complete customer care, your clients expect it. That's the heart of Customer Care as a Service.

Technology doesn’t just change how we do things; it changes who we are. It changes how we see the world. And it changes how we perceive ourselves in relation to others.

It also changes how consumers relate to the marketplace. There’s no such thing as technology that people don’t expected to be used. If there is a way to speed up an interaction, to make things better, consumers will quickly expect it to be used. There’s a very simple formula for this.

Potential = Assumption.

If technology enables quicker and more productive interactions, your consumers will demand it. They’ll expect it. And they’ll notice if you’re not using it. Think about it: if you don’t offer an priority shipping option, they’ll wonder why. “There are plenty of planes!”, they’ll say. And, possibly subconsciously (but most likely out loud), they’ll start to think that you are behind the times.

These conscious and subconscious shifts in expectations have created an entirely new product for every business: that of customer care as a service. This means that, no matter what your business, you have to focus on customer care. There are too many options, and too much competition in the new economy, for customer care to be an afterthought.

That’s all enabled by technology. To understand why, we have to go back to the original customer technology: the mail-order catalog.

How The Mail-Order Catalog Transformed Our Relationship to Commerce

Yesterday's Amazon

Yesterday’s Amazon

In 1888, the R.W. Sears Watch Company issued their first catalog, which, predictably, featured mostly watches and jewelry. It went through several iterations over the next half-decade, as the company grew and merged, and in 1893 sent out the original Sears, Roebuck, and Co catalog. The next year it grew to 322 pages, selling everything from sewing machines to automobiles.

This wasn’t the first catalog. You can go back to 1498, when a fellow named Aldus Manutius published a list of books for sale. In the 1600s, seed catalogs became popular, where people could see prices that a store was offering.

But none of those were mail-order yet, for a simple reason: regular postal services hadn’t yet been invented. It wasn’t easy to ship things from here to there, and if you sent a letter ordering some seeds, it could take weeks to arrive. And the carrier might be attacked by other postal brigands. The lesson, as always, is that the past was terrible.

The Postal Service

Exhibit A: The Past

But then came the advent of government-established postal systems, and services like the Pony Express. More important was the railroad and the establishment of safe passage across the country or even across the ocean. And these went hand-in-hand, really.

You might not think of mail-order as technological, but they were, in a real way. People in distant towns across the country could, with these, essentially shop in Chicago without having to make a weeks-long journey. They could take advantage of the giant marketplaces and the scale of the economy to get lower prices and better goods. They weren’t reliant on traveling salespeople or Joe down the street, who is “pretty sure he can build a tractor.”

It changed their lives. It changed their idea of commerce. It changed their perception to the market. And because of that, any store had to have a catalog. They couldn’t count on street traffic. They used to be able to count on people coming to the store because, what else are they going to do? Watch TV? That hadn’t been invented yet, suckers.

This is what people had to do before TVPictured: No TV

Not anymore. They had to adjust to the market, because the market had adjusted to technology.

Protecting Your Business By Focusing on Service

It’s the same as it is today. Back then, technology and infrastructure improved so that it was expected you would have a mail-order option. And if you have physical products today, it is expected that you can ship them immediately, whether you are a giant multi-national or a small store on Etsy. We have the technology to place an order instantaneously and have it on a plane that evening.

That’s meeting expectations, a vital part of customer care. But it isn’t just that, of course. Customer care is about making sure that every client and every customer feels that they aren’t just a number, but actually cared for.

That means a multi-platform communication effort where they are interacted with on social media, responded to in real-time with chatbots or customer care specialists, catered to with in-app experiences, and having their questions answered by trained customer care professionals who understand how to blend technology and humanity.

That’s the heart of customer care today. It’s a full experience. It has to be because it can be. Because your competition is offering the full experience. Because your customers expect it.

We’ll be talking next week about just how to leverage technology to create a customer care as a service platform. It’s vital for your business, because, from the first catalog to today’s non-stop multi-platform world, Potential = Assumption.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

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RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.