What does it take to turn customers into loyal fans? The answer lies in providing great customer service. Customer service is a necessary priority for any businesses. How businesses employ a blend of technological advancement and human interaction is what makes them stand apart. Customer service experience will define whether a customer chooses to stay with a business or moves on. To provide an excellent experience, you need to know what the latest trends are. Here are the customer service trends to watch out for in 2018.
1. Omni-Channel Personalization
Personalization allows customers to save time while identifying their interests and preferences. Organizations will focus on delivering a seamless customer service at all points of purchase whether it is retail, mobile, or desktop.
Organizations like Amazon & Netflix use data analytics to view shopper’s habits, purchases, issues and preferences to personalize content. Sports brand Decathlon plans to increase online product availability from 90% to 100% in future. They’ll also allow customers to order online and collect the product at a nearby store.
Retailers will offer more customer loyalty benefits and facilitate cardless transactions using the customer’s mobile number and password. Personalization efforts will consolidate both online and brick-and-mortar formats and modern retailers will actively adopt the omnichannel approach.
2. IoT (Internet of Things)
Whether it is home automation, wearable devices, logistics, or healthcare, IoT is making its presence felt across different sectors. With the emergence of IoT-enabled products (Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.), businesses are able to gather real-time data to analyze and preempt customer-facing issues.
IoT technology is giving a new dimension to customer service reducing manual input from customers and giving precise solutions. For instance, IoT in CRM, ERP and SCM systems will allow managers to service their customers better through informed decision making.
3. AI-Powered Customer Service
Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking a center stage across wide-ranging tasks like robot investment advisors, preventing fraudulent insurance claims, social media content vigilance, etc. Customer support is another bright spot where AI can transform the way business services customers. AI is increasingly deployed in automated answering systems to answer basic questions.
On the other hand, human beings will come into picture only to handle complex queries. AI and NLP (Natural Language Processing) are also being used to help employees through instant prompts during customer calls to understand and deliberate better. 2018 will witness a lot of innovation in this space.
4. Business Phone Answering Service
Businesses realize that every customer call is important whether it is from an existing or a prospective customer. Small businesses find it expensive and distracting to handle calls in-house. So a number of businesses will seek external support. With a business phone answering service, customer calls are received by professionally trained virtual receptionists. These 24/7 services allow businesses to instantly handle customer queries post office hours, answer FAQs, take messages and forward urgent calls to the appropriate contact in the company. In 2018, many SMBs will jump on the bandwagon.
Chatbots will allow businesses to handle a large number of customer queries in no time, minimize back-end support cost, and create an interactive experience for millennials. Many financial services apps and instant messaging apps are already using chatbots to redefine customer service. Triggered by process automation, chatbots are the future of customer service. The diminishing role of human beings in handling customer queries will witness a visible shift in 2018, although there is still a long way to go.
6. Mobile-Driven Interaction
Mobile is poised to become a primary medium for customer support, especially among millennials. Businesses will have to improve their in-app capabilities by including in-app messaging tools like live chat and easily searchable FAQs to make it easier for customers to find answers to their problems.
Quick resolutions through mobile apps including instant messaging apps ensure higher satisfaction among customers. While writing to mobile customers, customer support will need to adopt an informal and friendly tone away from the computer-generated text to appeal to young users whether it is for in-app communication, push notification, or SMS.
An emerging area in mobile customer service is the use of smartphone video camera support where customer service representatives take control of customer camera to remotely view the product and resolve issues. In 2018, businesses will invest heavily in mobile help desk solutions to boost mobile interaction.
7. Digital Self-Service Channels
The need for faster resolution is driving the adoption of self-service channels among customers. A study by Forrester Research in 2017 revealed that consumers are actively using self-service channels to seek service support including FAQs, online community forums, online virtual agents, mobile apps, and chatbots.
In 2018, intelligent virtual assistants like Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa will play a significant role in pushing self-servicing. Screenshots, explainer videos, self-service portals, and real-time support will gain more traction to add to customer convenience.
8. Social Media
The role of social media in handling customer complaints is growing rapidly because customers find the platform quick to access and complain about their service/product, which works in the customer’s favor. According to a study by Jay Baer, answering a social media complaint increases customer advocacy by as much as 25%.
In 2016, Twitter observed that customer service interactions over Twitter increased 250% in the last two years and this trend will expand to newer heights this year. Even though social media often requires other engagement channels like phone or email support to resolve the query, brands will focus on using “direct message” within the social media platforms to connect with customers.
Get Smarter to Service Smart Customers
Customers look for constant improvement in service experience. Businesses must observe these customer service trends to go that extra mile. Omni-channel personalization will gain prominence in 2018. IoT-enabled devices and big data analytics will transform service experience. AI and chatbots will create interactive experience besides minimizing cost and average handling time.
Business phone answering service will ensure that customers get round the clock professional support by virtual receptionists. Mobile customer service will shore up through better in-app experience. Self-service channels will be preferred wherever and whenever possible. Social media platforms will be harnessed for complaint resolution and advanced engagement.