Eric Reed is the vice president of business development at Timesheet Mobile, a GPS-enabled time tracking and scheduling company that helps businesses manage their mobile workforce. Timesheet Mobile’s solutions are used by thousands of employees and mobile workers worldwide, in industries as diverse as construction, transportation, healthcare and many others. Visit timesheetmobile.com.
The construction industry has historically been a slow adopter of new technologies. However, labor shortages, stiffer competition and more cost-effective and accessible systems have stimulated greater innovation in this sector.
In the last decade, cloud computing and mobile devices have emerged to become everyday technologies that dramatically disrupt how we work. Yet while the latest innovations are meant to make our lives easier, they can also result in feelings of anxiety and confusion. If a person has relied on manual systems or processes for years, it can be unnerving to move to a new system, no matter how much time or money it saves long term. Additionally, when the technology is intrinsic to the business and will be used daily, it is important that everyone has adequate training and assistance regarding how to use the system.
When virtually every software imaginable is available in the cloud as a subscription-based offering, this shift has also increased the volume and the way of asking for technical support. Whether it is a mobile device, software or electronic hardware, technical support services aim to deliver adequate training, customization or troubleshooting, so that anyone can use the technology more effectively. Luckily, there are more options than ever available for tech support and customer service.
The telephone is arguably the least efficient medium for tech support. It ties up two people, and often results in an escalation, call back and phone tag. The other pitfall of phone calls is the “tech-support rage” that is well known in the cable or phone industries. It can seem like an endless, tech-support loop; listening to on hold music, talking to automated systems and being transferred to multiple call agents, with no end in sight.
Fortunately, for those who still prefer to pick up the phone, this option is improving. In addition to further training for agents to handle more complicated inquiries, applications like Lucy Phone and Fast Customer will wait on hold for you and call you when an actual person picks up. There is no need to ever listen to hold music again.
Research firm the Radicati Group estimated the number of emails sent per day to be around 269 billion, which means that 2.4 million emails are sent every second. While many people want to veer away from email overload, it’s still one of the simplest and most common ways of communication in the workplace. One of the benefits to using email is that there is a digital trail of all correspondence, which ensures that there is a record of the issue from start to finish. On the supplier’s side, emails ensure a helpdesk ticket is opened so that the tech support team can track the problem and monitor how long it took until closure.
Instant Messaging & Chatbots
More technology companies these days are using instant messaging (IM) or chat options to communicate with customers. IM can provide quick answers to questions when the answer is difficult to find online. Because these messages tend to be briefer than voice queries or emails, it is also possible for service agents to handle multiple messages simultaneously, and may even rely on having scripted answers available for frequently asked questions in order to more swiftly resolve an issue.
Recently, there has been an explosion in chatbots (otherwise known as virtual agents or virtual assistants), which are computer programs that can simulate conversation with a person online. These chatbots can handle basic requests, and companies are creating a long list of common questions so these bots can respond to customers immediately. For more complicated requirements, companies are also setting up alert systems within the chatbot so a customer support person can take over, providing a seamless, satisfactory experience for the customer.
Social Media & Online Communities
Most businesses that provide a product or service these days will have a social media presence, especially on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. For some people, sending a tweet or message is the preferred option, particularly when escalating a concern, as it has potential to be seen by a much wider audience.
In some instances, there are forums available online where people can pose a question and have customers or industry experts provide recommendations or solutions. These can be either hosted by the company itself as a customer portal or as a group on a third-party website. For example, LinkedIn has a vast number of groups on various topics, organized by job roles and industries. Meanwhile, Quora is a general, question-and-answer site with a community of users who cover virtually every topic imaginable.
Analytics & Artificial Intelligence
Today, technology companies are increasingly relying on analytics built into their systems to evaluate customer support processes. Details, such as the number of queries, types of queries, response times and customer satisfaction rates, are all being scrutinized so that these businesses can constantly improve.
Some companies are using tools that can guide a person through what they need to do. WalkMe is a commonly used innovation that “layers” on top of any system, and serves like an online GPS so that a person doesn’t need to learn how to use the technology.
Rather, the technology learns about the individual’s behavior, job function and technical familiarity, so that he/she can accurately and efficiently use the system.
More than Support
As innovations available to the construction industry become more sophisticated, so, too, do the multichannel options for technical support and customer service. The best channels are those that can not only effectively answer specific questions, but can also continue to improve the speed and efficacy of resolving those inquiries.
While no product or service is perfect, there will always be a need for tech support for businesses. Ultimately, however, the best gauge of tech support success is the experience every employee has when using the system.