Imagine a future where an appointment with the cable company doesn’t mean giving up half your day to sit around waiting for the cable guy. That’s the future that Yuval Brisker’s company, TOA Technologies, is working to create—and it’s closer than you think. In this interview, Brent Leary talked to Brisker about why small businesses need to tailor the customer service experience to fit the customer’s needs, not the company’s, if they want to stay competitive.
Small Business Trends: Tell us a little bit about what TOA does.
Yuval: TOA provides a cloud-based software solution for managing mobile employees, with a view to and focus on the customer experience – managing mobile employees like technicians, service people and delivery people who go to customers’ homes on an appointment basis.
We’ve all experienced waiting for the cable guy. We have software that can predict a one-hour window for people to wait with 98 percent accuracy, so instead of waiting for all day, or four hours, you know when the guy’s going to arrive.
Small Business Trends: Recently, you sponsored a research study by the Economist Intelligence Unit on customer service challenges and trends. Ninety-five percent of respondents said offering tailored customer service is a big need for their businesses.
Yuval: People are getting used to the idea that they can tailor things to their specific needs and desires, and that’s beginning to spill out beyond the virtual world into the real world. People want the same kind of level of personalization they have in the virtual world in their physical world.
Small Business Trends: Customers are on social networks, they’re using mobile devices, and they really want to be able to use these things in as many parts of their life as possible. And it sounds like customer service is another one of those avenues, where they expect vendors, to engage them in order to serve them better.
Yuval: Well, we are all deeply connected today, right? Yesterday, I left my mobile phone in a taxi and I felt like my right arm had been cut off until the phone back. It’s that deep connection with devices and through them with the network–the social network, the information network, and in this case, the service network.
Those connections are something that we’ve grown to not just expect, but depend on and be almost addicted to. So it’s not surprising that people want to extend that level of connectivity into their service experiences.
Small Business Trends: And because of that customer-driven need 51` percent of respondents say they will introduce new customer service systems or software in the next three years.
Yuval: Some service organizations have already taken the step. For example, UPS recently said to customers, you don’t have to wait for the package anymore–you can actually go on our website and tailor the time you would like to get your package delivered to your home.
Small Business Trends: There’s a lot of great information in this survey, but is there anything that surprises you in the results?
Yuval: That not 100 percent thought it was important to engage in social media and tailor and personalize services to customers’ needs. It was in the 90s, which is very high. But our goal is to make sure that all companies think in terms of, “How do I fit my services to my customers’ needs?”
Small Business Trends: If you were to look out a year from now, where do you think companies are going to be in merging social and to keep improving the customer experience?
Yuval: I think there’s a clear convergence of all these kinds of technologies. What we have that’s unique, and what I think is going to be the next wave, is to be more predictive.
When you go on Amazon today, you buy something, and it says customers who bought this also bought that, there’s actually a predictive engine that tries to anticipate what you might want to buy. [Looking] a year forward, I think you’re talking about a much more anticipatory experience that will predict [customer needs], not just respond or give customers the ability to personalize their services.
Small Business Trends: Where can people go to learn more about the study?
This interview is part of our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click the right arrow on the gray player below. You can also see more interviews in our interview series.
[To listen to audio, click this icon]
Click to listen!
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.