Anyone who’s called into a customer service line knows there is a huge discrepancy in what companies say they are delivering in customer service, and what customers feel they’re actually getting. Meanwhile, customers are becoming more empowered with increasing knowledge and access to the marketplace itself through social media and easy online cost comparisons. Now more than ever, businesses’ customer service technologies have to be on point, otherwise their client base will move onto the next provider.

Improving customer experience

One approach to improving these services is by increasing flexibility for the customer by taking customer service to the cloud. Through cloud technology, companies can take services that were once restricted to the PC and provide the same services on every digital platform, thus improving business-customer engagement.

“The key of the cloud is to be able to access your data from anywhere, anytime,” says Kevin O’Leary, tech entrepreneur and investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” With this flexibility, customer service and tech support can respond faster, and more efficiently.

“If you have a customer, regardless of geography of where they are, you can get a lot of profile data about the experience they’re having with your product and service,” explains O’Leary. “As you build that data, the value of that customer goes higher and higher for you.” This is where customer retention comes into play. The better equipped you are to provide service to a loyal customer, the more likely they are to stay with you. With the benefits associated to using the cloud, you can first attract them, but then, perhaps even more importantly, you can maintain the relationship, increasing the value of your business.

“When you launch something that is clearly not being accepted, or is being accepted, you need to know why."

Increasing engagement

“There is no question that if you are able to score in the top quartile of customer service quarter after quarter, the value of your brand goes through the roof,” says O’Leary. This crucial aspect is somewhat new for businesses, as social media now provides customers with the platforms needed to either praise and rave about certain experiences, or detail their negative reviews — for all other potential and current customers to read. However, businesses can also take advantage of the information provided by these conversations by adapting to the needs of their client base.

“When you launch something that is clearly not being accepted, or is being accepted, you need to know why,” says O’Leary, “You definitely need to be monitoring this. The cloud lets you do that instantaneously.”

Crunching the numbers

In order to get the most out of the cloud and social media data management, building a database where you can access this user data on the go, at all times, is just the beginning. According to O’Leary, “It’s not enough to just collect the data. You have to actually be able to manage it and get useful information from it.” For this, there are multiple dashboards available to cut and review data in multiple ways to maximize benefit. With the right analytic tools, associates can summarize daily data reports as succinctly as one page. “Having data and not having the ability to analyze or manage it is useless,” says O’Leary.

Fortunately, investing in these tools is becoming increasingly accessible to businesses of all sizes. The average return on investment was once three years, but, “Today, the systems are so powerful and the costs have gone down, you can now get your investment return in less than a year,” says O’Leary. This minimizes the risks involved so that smaller businesses can also take advantage of cloud computing technology.