My hometown has recently experienced a boom of “roundabout,” or traffic circle, construction in many major intersections, a practice that doesn’t sit well with several people in the community. I was in the car with my father the other day when he was complaining about them:
“Ugh, I hate these traffic circles. Nobody that I know knows how to use them.”
“Well, what about younger people?” I said. “Are they figuring it out?”
“Yeah,” he conceded. “But older people don’t get it.”
“But in a few years, there will be a lot less older people on the road, and the younger people, and their kids, will be cruising through this with no problem. Sounds like the state built these thinking about making things easier for the future.”
(Grumble) “I still don’t like it.”
My dad can be bit of a curmudgeon.
It becomes too easy to reject something just because it’s not worth your time today. When it comes to the technology to handle a new generation of customers doing business on a new playing field, change can be hard to adapt to, especially if your business is thriving now. Looking toward the future is a goal of almost every company’s communications, but embracing the future can be a more arduous task.
Customer contact in 2013 is a more complicated task than it used to be. While good people and high-quality cellphones are the standard, it’s necessary to embrace the other ways the next generation of customers will want to reach you. So many people, some older but especially younger, are putting their smartphones, tablets and laptops to work for them to do so many things, from paying their bills to inquiring on their orders to inquiring where the heck their orders are and why they aren’t in their hands yet.
Interacting with someone on the phone, for some, feels like a waste of time, especially if the technology is already staring them in the face while they’re already multitasking. And, having a channel of convenience for them to work through is a heck of a lot more productive than allowing them to twist in the wind and “go viral” with their friends if something about what your company did isn’t making them happy.
Your customer care agents can multitask, too. The telephone is their first priority, but it may not be forever. If they can handle a request through a text, chat or even a smartphone app just as quickly, then the new technologies are doing what you’re paying for them now for — benefitting the next generation and improving the process of customer contact. Implementing software and systems that facilitate those needs and controlling the flow of traffic are key. The next generation will adjust and navigate it every bit as easily as many of us who might still pick up a phone to reach out.
Don’t be afraid to build it, and let people know how it works. The next generation of customers will prove the value of it for you. And, don’t be afraid to hear people grumble a little bit in the meantime.