The principles of customer service remain unchanged: to build good relationships with your customers you need to create a friendly environment that leaves a positive impression and encourages them to spend more. What has changed in recent years is consumer expectations around customer service.
New technology has pushed customer expectations to sky-high levels. Today, always-connected customers want access to services faster than ever. How your business copes with these impatient consumers will fundamentally shape how successful it can be.
To help you prepare for the challenges ahead, here are eight customer service trends you need to watch out for this year.
1. Data will continue to drive the customer experience
Creating a single view of consumers across every business touch point is the holy grail of truly personalised customer service. Leveraging data from every facet of your business is the key to getting as close as possible to this ideal.
Recently, the software used by customer support teams has become increasingly agile and intelligent. As this trend continues, expect the collection of data that can help improve the customer experience to become even more accessible to businesses of all sizes.
2. Customer service will become more customer led
With customer service becoming a key strategic asset for businesses, an increasing number of companies are giving consumers more choice over how they interact with them.
The upshot of this is that customers who feel empowered typically have better satisfaction rates and show more brand loyalty. As a result, allowing customers to drive their own experiences is set to become more commonplace with businesses in 2017.
3. Messenger apps are revolutionising customer support
Messaging apps are taking over the Internet. In the last five years, Techco reports that the number of active users across WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat has outgrown both Instagram and Twitter. As you know, where people migrate businesses tend to follow.
Uber, for example, recently launched a feature allowing their customers to hail a ride through Facebook Messenger. The Dutch airline KLM now allows passengers to manage all aspects of their flight via a messenger plugin. And Burger King even offer the capability for hungry customers to order ahead using a feature integrated into Facebook’s Messenger app.
4. The popularity of customer service chatbots will continue to rise
To help cope with the popularity of messenger apps, all the platforms listed above (and a lot more besides) are investing heavily in chatbot support. Last year, Facebook announced that more than 11,000 chatbots had been added to its messenger platform.
There’s still a long way to go before chatbots will replace the capability offered by human support. However, with the tech maturing, chatbots are already providing a crucial supporting role for service agents by helping to answer more basic queries.
5. More human than human cyborg virtual assistants
Doubts remain around chatbot adoption in the short to medium term, as some believe their capabilities still fall short of people’s expectations. Cyborg virtual assistants provide a good compromise by providing service agents with the help they need to deliver better customer service.
When faced with a customer query, a virtual assistant attempts to provide a list of possible responses. It’s then left up to the service agent to pick the best of those returned, making final checks and edits where necessary, and all the time the cyborg assistant is helping and learning from the human. In the time chatbot capabilities take to catch up with expectations, cyborg assistants could flourish.
6. Consumers outsourcing problem resolution
In NewVoiceMedia’s whitepaper, Serial Switchers Strike Again, we discovered that, on average, customers don’t want to wait longer than 10 minutes on hold. With poorly trained service agents and language barriers being an all too common occurrence on the other end of the phone, that isn’t surprising.
In response, several companies, including GetHuman, will now contact a company on your behalf. While the benefits of such a service are immediately obvious, if your customers are seeking outside help with resolving queries, it’s probably time to rethink your support strategy.
7. The packaging revolution starts now
In an era where unboxing videos get millions of hits on YouTube, it’s hard to argue that packaging is not a major part of the customer experience. Even so, a related area that sometimes gets overlooked is how a product gets shipped.
Amazon, for example, has been the subject of many complaints for the excessive use of packaging, and vowed to take a more sensible approach to wrapping products in the future. Expect other companies guilty of overdoing it with their packaging to follow the online retail giant’s lead.
8. Tracking feedback across multiple platforms
Recent research by Salesforce revealed that high performing businesses are 22 times more likely to deliver personalised omnichannel customer experiences across all areas of their business than those that are under-performing.
Considering this it’s imperative that businesses invest in systems that help track multi-channel feedback more effectively. Moving forward, it will be the only way to effectively improve customer experiences and address concerns.
Download our ebook to find out about the future contact centre and 10 predictions for the next 10 years.
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About Ashley Unitt
Ashley founded NewVoiceMedia to exploit the obvious benefits of putting an enterprise-class contact centre in the cloud, and now serves as Chief Scientist, leading the architecture and research teams.
Prior to NewVoiceMedia he spent ten years at Teamphone.com Ltd developing innovative CTI software solutions including voicemail systems, hot-desking products and an open source gate keeper.
Ashley's blog will focus on security, PCI-DSS and general cloud computing issues.
Outside of work he spends most of his time running around after his two young children. You can follow Ashley on Twitter at http://twitter.com/aunitt.