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11 Table-Stakes Tech Tools For Ensuring Competitive Customer Service

In today’s market, customers expect to be able to make a purchase or contact a business with questions or concerns around the clock. Even if a business operates one or more physical locations that are open 24/7, maintaining robust customer service support in a digital era means turning to technology. If a customer can’t find the immediate help they need from your business, they’re likely to turn to someone else.

In addition to helping customers access the information and assistance they need at any time and from any place, customer-support technology can ensure that human service agents have the time and focus to respond to those questions that require their empathy, guidance and expertise. Below, 11 members of Forbes Technology Council share the table-stakes technology tools every business should leverage to maintain competitive customer service.

Self-Service Tools

Customer service is a top priority for any company. When customers have questions or concerns, they need answers quickly so they can move forward with their day. Self-service tools, designed with users in mind, are critical to meeting this demand and ensuring that when a customer really needs to talk to a person, they are able to do so without a long and frustrating wait. –Neil Lampton, TIAG

1. Monthly Feedback Surveys

One of the most important things to remember when working with customers is that the customer is always right. Receiving feedback from customers early and often acts as the cornerstone of every successful business in today’s highly competitive market. One way to achieve this is to send out monthly surveys to your user base requesting information on what’s working well and what can be improved upon. – Marc Fischer,Dogtown Media LLC

Customer Journey Monitoring Tools

Consumers rarely complete complex transactions in a single channel, so businesses need full visibility into the consumer journey to provide the best possible customer service. Today’s consumers are very sophisticated and know there’s lots of technology at play when interacting with a brand. They expect that you’ll use it to provide a seamless experience, no matter how they choose to connect with you. – Gregg Johnson, Invoca

Service Analytics

Service desk tools, while necessary, are insufficient alone. Service analytics can help a business spot how customer support is doing relative to itself and industry peers. Metrics such as first response, number of touches to resolution, percentage of issues resolved with documentation and so on help a business provide robust customer service in a digital era. Recognize that support improvement is a continuous process, not a destination. –Vadim Vladimirskiy, Nerdio

Social Media Chat 

I think all tech leaders should harness the power of social media chat channels. Customers across all industries prefer to engage with businesses on social media when they have a question or concern. If you’re not there to help these people, they may seek out a competitor with accessible support options. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

An Internal Collaboration Tool

A collaboration tool such as Slack delivers powerful benefits that extend beyond messaging teammates. When integrated within customer service software solutions, Slack can enable customer success and other client-facing teams to better communicate with one another while solving issues in real time, fostering more streamlined collaboration and delivering solutions to customers faster. – Rich Waldron, Tray.io

Messaging Service

The ease and convenience of messaging has completely changed how we communicate in our personal lives and is now how we expect to engage with businesses, too. Through messaging, customer service evolves from transactions to ongoing conversations where customers get exactly what they need in their preferred channel. Plus, with AI, messaging can also provide more proactive and preventative service. – Adrian McDermott,Zendesk

Direct Communication Platforms

For B2B businesses, the importance of accessible, easy-to-use, direct communication platforms such as Slack can’t be overstated when it comes to robust customer service support. Particularly in the early days of a new relationship, it’s crucial for on-demand support and expertise to be just one message away. This helps build a loyal, positive relationship for the long term. – Alexandre Robicquet, Crossing Minds

Website-Based Live Chat

My company competes in a crowded B2B market, so customer service has become an increasingly important differentiating factor. A tool that helps us provide excellent customer service is Olark. Olark’s live-chat tool allows customers to communicate with our team directly on our website in real time. Rather than moving customers to conversations on email or phone, it keeps them engaged with our site. – Judit Sharon, OnPage Corporation

Tools Powered By Humanized AI

Customer service today means 24/7 availability with correct and empathetic query resolution. As hard as it is for humans to meet these standards, businesses can build robust support with the help of technology and AI via bots, chats and virtual agents. These are the go-to tools that elevate the customer experience. These tools must be powered by humanized AI, which brings together the best of both worlds. – Deepak Garg, Smart Energy Water

Calling Software Plus A CRM

Using a combination of calling software and a CRM creates seamless integration, providing information about the customer to the agent with no friction. It ensures increased business productivity by saving time and resources and assists in resolving the client’s queries much faster. The CRM helps you to create a knowledge bank that is accessible and robust so agents can easily answer questions asked by clients. – Ashish FernandoiSchoolConnect

Previously published on Forbes.