Today’s technology has evolved at such a rapid pace that some services that were once considered high-tech conveniences are now everyday expectations. Take taxicabs, for instance: 10 years ago, a cab equipped with a credit card reader was cutting-edge. Fast-forward to today, when many consumers won’t do business with a cabbie if they aren’t able or willing to accept plastic.
It’s a harsh reality, but businesses that fail to keep up with consumers’ demands for technology are typically the first to go. Here are a few ways you can meet your customers’ expectations with a few technological upgrades. Electronic payments
With the decline of checks, it’s easy to see why many businesses have ventured into electronic billing. E-billing is a service that encompasses not only online payments made through a company’s website, but also mobile payments made via a third-party application.
Many consumers are glad to ditch traditional paper invoices in favor of online payments. By offering customers the option to submit payments through your website, you can expedite your billing process, especially when it comes to recurring monthly payments. Not only is it convenient for customers to set up automatic payments for recurring bills, but e-billing can save time over processing invoices by hand. Additionally, the risk of bounced check fees is eliminated because the funds are authorized and disbursed into your business account immediately following a customer’s payment.
On-the-go billing is also a big hit with consumers. It’s as simple as equipping your technicians and sales staff with a smartphone or tablet and a mobile card reader. Consumers are already accustomed to paying quickly for services rendered, and collecting payments on the spot is good for your company’s cash flow. Multi-channel customer service
A new tech-savvy generation will soon become homeowners, and it’s likely they will be your next wave of customers. Among the many differences between the newcomers and your current clientele are communication preferences. A recent study from mobile messaging service HeyWire Business showed that 53 percent of consumers aged 18-34 prefer to use electronic media (email, web chat, text or social networks) instead of the telephone for customer support. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to ditch the phone; it means it’s time to add some variety in the customer service center.
One of the easiest ways to dip your toe into the multi-channel customer service pool is by setting up an email account
dedicated to customer support. It’s vital that this email address is prominently placed on your website and actively monitored by a customer service representative. Before implementing a new email support initiative, it’s a good idea to set guidelines for how quickly a staff member must respond to an email. Be sure to turn on the account's auto-reply feature to let your customers know they will receive a response within a certain time frame and that they should contact you by phone for emergencies.Online appointments
Online appointment scheduling is a growing trend among consumers and can serve as an easy way to attract new clients. By allowing customers to log in after business hours and schedule appointments with technicians or sales staff, you can reduce the amount of time employees spend returning phone calls and responding to customer inquiries. As an added bonus, your booking system will work around the clock to fill the time slots of your field employees, which will allow you to better anticipate your staff needs and service your customers more efficiently.
When it comes to technology, businesses must adapt or get left behind. Don’t let your company slip through the cracks. Instead, invest in new tools that will keep your company on the forefront of technology and exceed customer expectations, because if you don’t, another company will.