Whether you’re arguing with your telco company or trying to rebook a flight, awful customer service encounters are a disheartening part of daily life. What can companies learn from Union Square Hospitality Group restaurateur Danny Meyer and Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal? They are helping inspire a new generation of companies to overhaul how they think about interacting with the public. They provided a couple of insights on how to do so with technology.
The goal should not be to remove humans from the equation, but to empower human beings who actually have a beating heart and who are caring people to achieve a greater degree of hospitality. In Union Square, two kinds of employees will be outfitted with Apple Watches: managers and sommeliers. There is a gentle ping that could go from the manager to the front desk to say table 62 is ready. Or when a waiter places an order for a bottle of wine, the sommelier, who is wearing a watch, gets a ping and can bring you that bottle and save eight minutes. The system can say table 42 has just paid their bill, and they can ping the coat checker and have your coats ready for you at the front door so you can be off. The end goal is to speed non essential processes up and “provide the customer with the gift of time”.
Warby Parker aims to eliminate low-value interactions and amplify high-value interactions. For example, asking somebody for their billing address, that’s a low-value interaction, and frankly, you’d prefer not to talk to a human being about that. But helping the customer select the right pair of glasses for their face is something that Warby Parker wants to engage with. In addition, Warby Parker spends a lot of time creating functionality that can get everybody who was at the back of the house to be on the floor, working and engaging directly with customers.
Used strategically, social media can provide customer service, yield intelligence, and offer marketing opportunites. Their customer-experience team is constantly looking for cues when they get an email, when they’re talking to someone on live chat to deliver a level of personalization that doesn’t require technology. Going above and beyond, that creates these great moments and helps to improve community engagement.
Having integrated teams that are constantly communicating is another important part. This is especially made easier by relying on the social media channels. Warby Parker made it part of their playbook to record short videos, so suddenly a potentially challenging customer service interaction becomes a marketing tool, just because it’s a great customer experience.
To have the proper people to execute is tricky. They need to understand technology but at the same time have qualities that make them extremely customer-friendly. Seek out people who are proactive, curious, and passionate about the brand. Proactive because stuff is changing. Curious because technology is changing constantly. Passionate because it enables the company to scale and be profitable.
So get the people and provide them with the right technology to do their jobs better. Great customer service at the end of the day cannot be delivered by robots. It has to be provided by people who smile, make eye contact, are emphatic and use technology to their advantage. Pretty much spells what the rest of us should endeavor to do.