by Mike Wittenstein
The new features coming online include connecting and coordinating support through multiple social channels, understanding who you are serving and what resources you're expending, and making the provisioning of service more efficient.
In the SMB space, I'd personally like to see more predictive analytics that help customers get more of what they want, faster and easier -- avoiding the need to contact the help desk altogether. Instead of being the place people go when things don't go right, I'd like to see the help desk and customer service space be the places where things are designed to go right -- right from the start.
I'm seeing more emphasis on making help desks more efficient -- and the expense of providing more service more easily and at lower cost to customers.
If you serve customers with a product/service that lives on multiple platforms, look for tools that let your customers reach you on any of them. Be ready when and where they need you. Example: Offer rapid response to new camera owners the first two weeks they are in the field by letting them tweet, text, Facebook, or email their questions -- so that they enjoy early success using their new gear.
If your customers are socially savvy, lean toward the tools that append communications from multiple social channels in a single prospect/customer record. Example: if you work with mystery shoppers, let them send in their observations from anywhere, anytime, and on any device by just tagging their research entries.
If you work in a fast-moving area with heavy competition, your experience has to be better than others'. In this case, it's not too early to look at artificial intelligence capabilities in products that can 'guess' where customers will need help next. Example: your client has just purchased their sixth identical hard drive from you. The day after it was received, a call comes in from that loyal customer. Chances are there's a technical issue. Instead of sending them through the most cost-effective route, why not route their call to Tier Two support to ensure first-call resolution and, at the same time, send a link to the latest diagnostic to their email before your agent even picks up the phone?
Consider incorporating help desk software as early as possible. Even if you're part of a small-ish operation, planning your customer service levels and designing the right processes will let you grow faster and more profitably.
Having a well thought out (even if very simple) support program will emit confidence to your customers and prospects, improve your ratings on review sites, and let more team members spend time on growing the business and building new services. Service should be personal and meaningful. But, if you can't delegate it, you can't grow.