Customer service is changing rapidly as technology encroaches on the traditional world of retail marketing and sales. Customer and brand loyalty are quickly becoming a thing of the past as many customers search for the finest quality at the cheapest price through technology. As all this occurs, new knowledge and skills related to the capabilities and operation of various forms of computer, Internet, cloud and mobile technology are being required of customer service representatives and others in their organizations.
To give an insight into this phenomenon, think about the fact that virtually every aspect of our lives is now impacted by some form of technology. People around the world are now part of a 24/7/365 society, meaning that many have to technology 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and can communicate at any time and in virtually from any place.
Ecommerce now dominates the retail industry. According to the website Internet World Stats there are over 7 billion people worldwide in 233 countries and regions in 2012. Of that number almost two and one-half billion now use the Internet. Further, the International Telecommunication Union reported that in February 2013 there were 6.8 billion mobile phone subscribers around the globe (over 96% of the worldwide population). Mobithinking (www.mobithinking.com) reports that at the end of 2012, there were over 321 million mobile subscribers in the United States alone.
Through all this technology, consumers spend billions of dollars each year. For example, eMarketer reported in January 2013 that consumers spent nearly 25 billion dollars on orders placed through mobile technology (e.g. phones and tablets) alone. This does not include travel services and tickets purchased. Technology sales are catching up to retail sales.
According to Adobe Digital Marketing blog, the digital sales on Black Friday in 2012 reached approximately 1.3 billion dollars. Some sources estimate that $1 in every $4 dollars spent on merchandise is now through technology. These numbers do not take into consideration sales of online retailers from other countries.
To find out about products and services, many people turn to the Internet to do their research. In many cases, they are now using bookstores and other retail sources to browse potential products, and then order via technology. And why wouldn’t they when giants like Amazon and Wal-Mart are deeply discounting and in many instances offering free shipping.
Entire industries are changing as a result of this worldwide trend. An example is the publishing industry, which is has virtually reinvented itself to stay competitive and meet the rapidly changing needs, wants and expectations of a global customer base. One of the biggest factors causing this change is the evolution of eBooks and electronic readers. Book prices are spiraling downwards as more people read on a technology-based device. Amazon now sells more eBooks than they do print versions.
As a service provider, if you are not staying abreast of these changes, gearing up with training and education to develop and maintain knowledge and skills, you may soon find yourself outsourced.