Value from Technology

How New Technologies Enhance the Customer Experience While Making You More Efficient

What are the elements of great customer service? Reasonable people can agree on some qualities: attention to customer needs, a willingness to go the extra mile, standing behind the product and service with a bright smile. All of the above play into an overall impression.

What about the key elements of efficiency in business operations? A lot of things, obviously, but free-flowing, easy communication is one of the biggest.

Improving one or the other of these areas is difficult enough, but a number of businesses in widely varying industries – from car dealerships to hospitals and hotel chains – have managed to achieve both. How? In part, by deploying advanced, web-based paging systems that keep customers in the loop about whatever service is being provided while simultaneously promoting efficiency through seamless employee communication.

Companies have found web-based messaging a scalable way to manage staff members no matter the organization’s size. They can broadcast orders to the entire staff, delegate to specific individuals or reach critical staffers in time-sensitive situations – all with minimal use of the office phone system or loudspeakers.

The same systems allow them to raise satisfaction scores by freeing customers from lobbies and waiting rooms. Businesses can create electronic queues and alert their customers without announcements over an overhead speaker. At the same time, they’re able to collect data on critical metrics such as customer wait times.

Industries Putting the Technology to Work

For example, hospitals, medical facilities and healthcare offices use on-site silent messaging, either through patient pagers or mobile text messaging to keep patients and their loved ones informed. The chief purpose is to call waiting patients or families, while protecting patient privacy, a federal requirement under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). On the other hand, pushbutton transmitters also can be used by patients to alert staffers for assistance, to improve patient flow and boost staff productivity.

The systems can ease pressure and congestion around the nurses’ station and help families feel more connected to what’s going on with their loved ones. Pagers, for example, can save a family from sitting hours and hours in a waiting area. Instead, they are able to grab a bite to eat without worrying they’ll miss the doctor’s rounds or a critical update after surgery.

At one family medical practice in the Houston area, staffers once used a flag system to notify staff of waiting patients as they passed exam rooms. But flags were overlooked and the staff ended up paging people over loudspeakers.

Now, the facility has improved productivity, patient flow and communication with web-based paging software and alphanumeric pagers. Each staff member has a pager, and anyone who wants to contact them can do so quickly by clicking on a name and a preprogrammed message. An integrated system of push-button
transmitters in each exam room silently alerts staffers when patients are ready to be seen.

Hospital paging systems have another purpose: They help collect data – on patient wait times and other important metrics – that can be delivered quickly back to administrators.

In the hospitality industry, hotel paging systems are deployed to enhance the customer experience in several ways. We’ve all tried checking into a hotel early, only to find our rooms aren’t ready. So we end up standing near the front desk, waiting to be summoned.

With mobile text messaging or physical pagers, guests are free to browse in gift stores or lounge in the in-house bar while waiting for their rooms. Paging devices also can be used to order food and drinks from the pool or to request assistance – all without the need to get out of your beach chair or leave children unattended by the pool. Guests simply push a button and staff is notified by alphanumeric message.

These are just a few examples of a common thread running through successful business operations these days: Along with a top-down commitment from the C-Suite and ongoing employee training, stellar customer experience more than ever depends on moving technology solutions from a supporting role to center stage.

Customer Service: Big Opportunity in the ‘Little Things’

Executives are well aware of the importance of customer service. In a report from Oracle titled “Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era,” 97 percent agreed delivering a great customer experience is critical to business advantage and results.

And the cost is huge if you fail: Respondents in the study estimated the average potential revenue loss for not offering a positive, consistent and brand-relevant customer experience is 20 percent of annual revenue.

Yet, the study finds executives actually underestimate the risk: While less than half of executives say customers will switch brands over service, a full 89 percent of customers say they actually have done so. Their general perception, studies show, is that only luxury brands provide great service.

So, why isn’t service better? Executives in the study cited limitations ranging from inflexible technology to siloed organizations to insufficient investment in new tools.

One missing ingredient, is, for want of a better word, the attention they pay to the “little things” – small touches that make a customer experience more personal and pleasant. In short, once the basics are addressed – whether it’s a clean room or competent auto service – the smaller touches ……

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