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7 Best customer support tools you need to use this year

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Technology is changing consumer behaviour and demands, leaving online retailers scrambling to catch up. Fortunately, innovators all over the world are rising to the challenge - including us! ;-) Check out these customer support innovations guaranteed to boost your customer support in 2013...

1. Hybrid messaging (Casengo) This is our blog, so we can brazenly start off with singing our own praises, can’t we? We are, however, not the only ones believing in the future of the hybrid messaging technology we created: so far, we’ve made more than 20,000 customers happy. Our technology puts customers in the driver’s seat, without overburdening the small to medium sized companies that use Casengo. Each (potential) customer who gets an email - in which the company in question tries to answer his or her question - can turn this static email into real-time chat. As a consequence, resolution times improve dramatically, and so do customer satisfaction ratings! Sign up now - first user is free forever.

2. Insite (Fusion Technologies) Sometimes the best know-how doesn’t come from a manual, but from learning on the job. But unless this know-how is shared, its value is limited to just the holder of this wisdom. This is where Insite steps in, with an online learning platform for colleagues to share best practices and learn from each other. For example, Panasonic’s technicians post helpful tips and video guides to deal with those tricky enquiries or repair call-outs that would otherwise have required escalation, but can now be referenced in an instant. A great way to wise up customer support!

3. Body shape recognition for online fashion (London College of Fashion) You know how one brand’s size 8 is another brand’s size 12? Finding the right fit of jeans online can drive a woman - let’s face it, they’re mostly women - insane. The London College of Fashion is introducing a virtual tape measure with body shape recognition technology so online retailers can help their customers select the right size and fit. No more returns - unless you’re a notorious yo-yo dieter. But that’s your problem, not theirs.

4. Near field communications Even though this technology isn’t at all new - it’s actually been around in its early form since the 90s - it’s certainly catching on. Companies use NFC in digital displays, allowing customers to get product support on their smartphones. NFC also enables location check-in, so the nearest field technician can be routed to a customer for faster call-out response. What’s next? Alerting consumers of deals and events for shops and venues on the street they’re walking down. Every street will soon be like Aladdin’s cave.

5. 3D Conference calling (Voxeet) Supporting customers is often a collaborative effort, but introducing the speaker phone or conferencing option also introduces background noise, echo, and confusion as to who’s speaking. Voxeet eliminates all these side-effects with high definition, 3D audio and speaker recognition cues so you get crystal clear reception, speaker identification plus the ability to transfer the call from your computer to your mobile phone. Supporting customers on the go is very 2013 indeed!

6. Crowdsourcing technology (Crowd4Care) Your biggest product fans and evangelists may actually be your best customer support agents if you implement Crowd4Care. This software from Crowd Engineering enables companies to crowdsource support with workflow processes, certification of community experts, rewards and inquiry routing to the most qualified community expert. You save money, your product fans become even more engaged, and you have processes in place to maintain support quality. We like.

7. Social customer support culture (Hootsuite) We often hear that social media can’t work effectively for customer support unless they’re fully adopted across the entire organization. Best Buy seem to agree, and they encourage all of their 180,000 employees to assist and engage with their customers over social media. Culture, training, protocols and technology all play a part, and with a tool like Hootsuite, businesses can adopt a company-wide social media culture with permission-based access and publishing safeguards, so only the right content goes live.****