By Sa Nyoung Kim
During Customer Service Week celebrated this year, one of the key themes was elevating service through the adoption of new technologies, specifically the role of innovation in enhancing service to customers. First, even as we continue to reflect on the value of the customer to the business, we must pay equal attention to re-defining the value of the business to the customer.
Second, from a technology perspective, we must go beyond how the latest tech innovations serve customers better to how they enable them to live healthier, more meaningful lives. Technology is an indispensable aspect of modern life and is transforming lives in previously unimaginable ways, for instance, empowering consumers to embrace safer, healthier and productive lives.
Take for instance, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled home technology that uses advanced automation to save time, money and energy. Examples include intelligent home gadgets that are synchronized with your daily schedule to help you plan your life better. Think of a refrigerator that alerts you when groceries are about to run out thus helping you manage your household more efficiently even when you are busy. A washing machine that is programmed to use less water and electricity thus slashing your domestic bills.
This is not the stuff of sci-fi movies but real life applications of cutting-edge tech innovations designed to meaningfully impact lives and give consumers control over their lives. Studies have shown that well organised daily routines have a beneficial impact on a person’s mental health and wellness. This is just one of the ways that technology is re-defining our lives.
Importantly, such innovations enable individuals and families to achieve sustainable lifestyles based on physical, emotional, mental, social and psychological wellbeing. It also frees time for one to pursue healthy activities like going out for a walk or jog instead of getting bogged down with home chores.
Breakthrough product ideas come from observing how people live and coming up with solutions that are relevant to their daily context. Staying ahead of the curve requires continuous investment in innovative technologies that enrich consumer experiences. Throughout this iterated process, a business must see the world as it is through the eyes of its customers, that is, at a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) level.
Even at a Business-to-Business (B2B) level, this requires listening to consumer needs carefully before even starting to design new technology solutions. This presupposes continuous investment in the right skillset for enriching the customer experience. The innovative solutions that come out of this process, or rather journey, enable businesses to optimally manage their capital and operational expenditure.
Apart from augmenting the customer experience, technology can also be a force for social good where businesses that thrive from innovation give back to communities and embrace environmentally sound practices. Indeed, many leading consumer lifestyle brands like LG share a belief that technology needs to be a force for good in the society and economy, and must add value to people’s lives.
To quote the American economist Milton Friedman, technology in its most basic form is neither good nor bad, it is neutral. It is the responsibility of those who develop technology to shape it into a force for global good. As a technology brand, LG has always explored the meaning of a Good Life. The company’s innovative culture is anchored on the desire to create a meaningful connection between its products and the lives of consumers but also enabling a healthier living environment in the home.
Beyond the home, technology is influencing human mobility as seen in the latest innovations like Electric Vehicles that are safe, fast and environmentally friendly. In diverse fields like healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality and retailing, advances in automation are transforming consumer experiences with products and services to a dramatic new level.
In a nutshell, the customer is pre-eminent when it comes to technology and its impact on customer service.
Mr. Kim is the Managing Director, LG Electronics East Africa