It is often said that technology makes life easier. But as more companies release technology products designed for efficiency and problem-solving, setting up and actually using these shiny new devices to their potential doesn’t always live up to the promise of a simpler, easier life.

How do technology brands fix this issue?

Where can they connect with the consumer to give them the help they need to truly benefit from useful product features?

As Forrester recently noted, customers today "expect easy, effective customer service which build positive emotional connections. And they expect this type of service from all companies that they do business with – companies that are both big and small."

Unfortunately, companies may be losing more customers than keeping them because of ineffective customer service efforts, according to research from Arizona State University. The latest version of the school’s “customer rage” study found more customers are experiencing problems and are increasingly unsatisfied in how they're being resolved.

Majority of Customers Struggle With Setup

According to a recent survey we conducted, nearly 60 percent of consumers say that the setup/installation of a technology product and any subsequent troubleshooting requires the most effort on their part.

Customers can become so frustrated with these issues that many won’t hesitate to return products at the first sign of trouble.

In fact, if the process of installing or setting up their product is too difficult, 89 percent will make a return within a week. Some customers may abandon your brand altogether.

Brands need to face the reality of the complex nature of technology and take proactive steps to meet customers’ needs at every touchpoint in the customer journey.

Only through the implementation of proactive support strategies and embedded contextual insights are technology brands able to significantly reduce customer effort and build loyalty.

Personalized Self-Service

Consumers are extremely diverse in how they like to interact with brands and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to customer support. While some prefer speaking directly to a live representative on the phone or using chat to connect to an agent, others would rather start with web research before reaching out to the company directly for help.

Tech brands must cover all of the bases and offer solutions that incorporate a variety of consumer preferences.

Experience shows many customers prefer a do-it-yourself approach to addressing post-purchase product issues, hence web is quickly becoming the top preferred support channel. These consumers want control over troubleshooting and resolving issues and have thus ushered in the era of self-service tech support.

Consumers have come to expect multiple options for interacting with brands as a result of increased connectedness in everyday life. This means brands must meet them where they are to fix problems and drive brand loyalty.

In tandem with live assistance, tech brands need to consider robust self-service solutions to offer customers a personalized approach for resolving issues themselves.

These solutions need to be designed with the customer in mind in order to prioritize getting to the right information at the right time and with minimal effort. Gone are the days of simply calling 1-800-HELP. Brands need to provide their customers with the tools they need to regularly use tech products and the flexibility to access troubleshooting help specific to their own situation and on their own time.

Focus on the Customer Journey

Customer support has traditionally been reactive by nature: customer uses the product; customer experiences issue with the product; customer contacts company for support; company assists customer with the issue; customer gets frustrated with all the steps involved to fix the problem, customer buys from a competing brand hoping for a more positive, effortless experience.

When customers don’t have issues with a product, they’re more likely to buy from that brand again in the future. Positive post-purchase experiences create brand equity and strengthen the relationship between brands and customers. But when an issue arises, that trusted alliance can disintegrate quickly and customers will return the product or switch to a different brand altogether.

This is a huge problem for driving revenue. Because positive experiences promote brand success, brands need to be proactive in their efforts to connect with customers. They can do this two ways:

  1. Be as thorough as possible in the onboarding or set up process. Provide the right guidance to ensure that the customer is setting up their product the right way and for the right use case. Identify support options at this early stage so they know where to turn for help.
  2. Put support processes in place throughout the product journey. Support shouldn’t stop with set up. A lot of unforeseen circumstances can arise throughout the life of the product. Now that you started the journey with the customer, be there every step of the way!

By proactively reaching out to the customer and implementing support strategies that are there at set up through the life of the product, you’ll be positioned along the customer journey to offer support wherever and whenever you’re needed.

Contextual Recall

When problems do arise, quickly and efficiently resolving them is paramount to brand success. Contextual insight and knowledge of troubleshooting pathways help reduce customer effort and increase efficiency of resolving issues whether in a self-service manner or when escalated to live assistance.

Brands need to leverage intelligent, real-time technologies where a record of valuable information such as prior customer touch points or health data from devices can be accessed to help optimize issue resolution.

For instance, embedded support solutions that provide detailed background on the customer context as well as the customer’s previous behavior are essential to getting to the root of the problem. Rather than asking and re-asking for these details, brands should collect customer data throughout the journey that can help shape the brand experience.

By being proactive and meeting the customers where they’re needed most, offering self-service solutions and drawing contextual insights to resolve issues quickly, brands can minimize time, effort and frustration to increase customer retention, boost brand loyalty and drive revenue.

Remember, in the end, customer experience is a journey, not a destination.

Title image by Austin Ban