The Internet and the Changing Face of Customer Service

To understand how the Internet stampede for online presence might affect the video surveillance industry, we asked video manufacturers to project what their customer service operations would look like in the next three to four years.

The latest analysis and comparison suggests that the power of the Internet will greatly affect the administering of customer service operations. With so much opportunity and the ability to offer convenient, user-friendly services, the prospect for such an altered landscape begs several compelling questions.

Will the manifest trend to use the information highway, for instance, impact integrator and user-training road shows? Yes, change is coming.

Manufacturers Embrace the Internet
The chart below illustrates that with the exception of online orders by end users and system design services, every customer service feature is rated higher than 3.5. This is generally considered to be the threshold of real impact.

Online orders and system design services are usually the property of integrators if good manufacturer/integrator working relationships are to be maintained. This is an indication why the respective 3.2 ratings for these two categories are the lowest on the chart.

Product information to end users is rated high at 4.5, which is only one-half point lower than the top of the 5-point rating system. Thus, there cannot be any question about the way in which manufacturers are selecting their primary communication medium for 2010.

At 4.4 is tech support to the dealer/integrator. In my column last month, I touched on the lack of integrator training in the IP market. Dealers and integrators have real problems trying to keep up with the technical aspects of every new product line that each manufacturer introduces, especially in IP. So, the Internet is their information safety blanket.

Dealer/integrator training is obviously a lot less expensive on the Internet than it is using the traveling road-show approach. It may not be as effective, according to some individuals, but interactive Internet sessions are here to stay and will only increase in popularity. As shown in the chart, the single largest increase in all of the customer service ratings listed between 2006 and 2010 show manufacturers utilizing the Internet for the task of dealer/integrator training.

The top four customer services to be provided on the Internet by 2010 are the same services currently available online. But, as the chart indicates, communications priority via the Internet will be much more powerful on behalf of these information topics in 2010 than it is now in 2006.

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