Without customers, your business doesn’t survive – it’s really as simple as that. But with so many other things vying for attention from your business, customer service oftentimes is relegated to backseat status; after all, once your customers have made their initial purchase, what is there left to do? Apparently, a lot.


Fortunately, there are a ton of options when it comes to managing your customer service, many of which are inexpensive and extremely efficient at what they do. If you haven’t seen the way that technology has changed how you interact with your customers, here’s a quick refresher course.


1. Technology Has Put Customers in the Driver’s Seat

Whereas a bad review used to be a minor annoyance, these days, one bad review can absolutely destroy your business (depending on the review). If treated poorly, customers now have a thousand ways to tell other people about their experience, from social media, online review services like Yelp, or even by making a viral video about it. For that reason, businesses need to be increasingly aware of their interactions with customers on a micro level.


Moreover, customers have begun to take notice of this change. The age-old mantra of “the customer is always right” now takes on a more prominent position, and your customers expect the very best from you at all times. E-mails need to be replied to quicker, return policies need to be more lenient, and managers need to be more available. You can’t afford to hide behind a brick wall anymore; these days, customers call the shots.


2. Technology Has Made Communication Quicker

Before the invention of the light bulb, people stopped working at sundown; after the light bulb was invented, they could work around the clock. The same is true for the internet and social media. The last couple of generations have become accustomed to firing off texts, emails, direct messages, and tweets around the clock, not only to their friends but also to businesses. As a business owner, you now have a responsibility to respond to those lines of communication as quickly as possible, especially if you want to stay ahead of the competition.


Direct texting services are a cost-effective and efficient way to relay information to your customers in a timely manner, and everything from appointment reminders to promotional offers are on the table. Moreover, a whopping 57% of customers have said they don’t mind receiving texts from companies, so there’s no excuse not to get on board. While some of the best free CRM tools may have this function as part of their package, in some cases you’ll have to pay for it. But if current trends are any indication of how people respond, the cost should be more than worth it.


3. Technology Has Made for More Informed Customers

One of the key components to a good search engine ranking strategy is quality content that serves people’s needs and answers their questions. This serves two needs: first, it allows customers to find the answers on their own and not tie up company time, and second, it makes them more informed when they do reach out.


While these are both usually thought of as bonuses, they can also make for headaches for companies who are not prepared for them. Since customers are more informed, they expect their customer service agents to be even more so. A lack of consistency between points of contact within a company’s infrastructure can be enough to force customers to look elsewhere for help.


No matter what industry you operate in, you need to make sure that you are providing relevant and consistent information across the board, from your website to each individual agent. Customers have more resources available to them and are more savvy than they used to be, which forces every other company on earth to up their standards as well.