Technology and the customer service experience

July's cover story

Direct Selling News has just published a comprehensive article about how technology has changed the way we serve our customers. It’s worth a read, but if you haven’t got the time, here’s a recap.

Is the customer always right? Perhaps not, but it is about making the customer feel special, and technology just adds a new dimension to the business:

Raising the bar
  • Although the Internet is the main source that sparks conversations, 82 per cent of word-of-mouth dialogue still happens face-to-face.
  • Direct selling companies like ViSalus Sciences and QNet integrate digital media and network marketing by sharing content that will help their distributors sell.
  • Technology has made the presentation of information much more immediate, engaging and just more attractive. Think fancy tablets, smartphone apps and touch screens.
Increasing the speed of business
  • Networkers can “meet” customers anywhere, at any time. With tablets and smartphones, getting in touch is easy.
  • It’s greener in terms of cutting down the paperwork.
Providing real-time business data
Herbalife is a great example:

  • With its data analytics package, customers can access real-time data online.
  • Its distributor portal has also been streamlined to make it more user-friendly, which ultimately helps distributors to better support their customers.
  • The company incorporates distributor feedback into the adaptation of their business tools, aimed at providing better service for these distributors. Seems like common sense, so why don’t more companies do this?
Even Oprah uses Skype
Empowering distributors and transferring knowledge more effectively
  • Technology narrows the gap between big corporations and small home-based entrepreneurs.
  • Primerica’s TurboApps allows their representatives to manage insurance applications on hand-held devices. Not only does this eliminate paperwork, reps can also receive commissions faster.
  • Web-based meetings mean you can include more people in meetings from different locations. Plus with video, you can rely on a real-time visual reference instead of having to shuffle through documents later.
  • Meetings can be recorded and added to a company’s resource library.
Going mobile
  • Monavie uses a work-at-home program so customer service reps can access all the files they need from the comfort and convenience of home.
  • Amway offers a mobile business solution to its distributors. There’s also an iPhone app equipped with multiple functions, including ordering capabilities, product and sales support, catalogues and videos.
Amway's iPhone app
The direct selling competitive advantage
  • Direct selling is based on the premise of building customer relationships.
  • Technology may simplify things for customers, but there will always be a need for that personal touch which network marketers bring to their customers.
  • Digital media, such as Twitter and blogs, let networkers create stronger connections with their customers. Feedback can guide product development.
Invest in forward thinking
  • The e-commerce channel is estimated to hit USD300 billion in the US alone by the end of 2012.
  • Customers are more sophisticated, tech-savvy and demanding, thanks to easy access of information.
Instead of wondering if you can afford to invest, it’s time to think: can you afford not to?

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