Before 2020, customer support in large organizations meant siloed workstations and state-of-the-art communication tools for professional customer service representatives, who worked in different shifts to resolve customers’ queries and issues.
But the COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things. With the work-from-home transition, a majority of reps, if not all, worked remotely and the concerns regarding efficiency and productivity grew across industries.
The future of customer service looked bleak for a moment. Then a massive shift occurred. Several companies adopted suitable communication technologies and tweaked their systems to provide superior customer services. Gradually, but steadily, customer service became more people-centric, time-sensitive, and all-inclusive.
This blog post discusses what the future holds for customer service as well as the key trends and technologies that will impact it.
6 trends that are shaping the future of customer service
Over the years, customers’ expectations have increased a lot. Apart from products and services, attractive offers and deals, and convenience in buying and paying, they want superior customer service. The fast-paced digital transformation has also contributed to the change. Here are six emerging trends of customer service.
Seamless customer experience
Customers today are looking for a seamless customer experience. One recent data states that 86 percent of customers are ready to pay a premium for a seamless customer experience. Keeping that in mind, providing a seamless customer experience is the number one priority for most contemporary businesses. As per a study, nearly 85 percent of businesses that enhanced their customer experience reported higher revenues.
To provide a seamless customer experience, many reputed companies are engaging with customers using multiple channels including phone, email, text messages, social media, and more. As more and more businesses try to give high-quality customer experience, it’s going to be the new norm soon.
Empowered customer service representatives
Many leading businesses have started empowering, even incentivizing, their customer service representatives to make customer-centric decisions. Some are hiring highly experienced and expert customer support professionals and authorizing them to use their skills and experience to communicate with their customers. Some are training their employees to effectively deal with customers.
Let’s take the example of Virgin Group. The London-based global investment conglomerate has authorized each of its customer service representatives to directly reach out to customers and address their problems. Some companies such as American luxury hotel chain Ritz-Carlton permit their customer support representatives to spend up to a certain amount of money to make a customer happy.
Personalized customer experience
A majority of customers today expect a personalized experience from the businesses they deal with. They want businesses to understand them better and communicate with them in a more effective and personalized manner.
As per one research done by McKinsey, over 70 percent of customers expect businesses to provide customized messages and 76 percent of them have a negative perception of a business when that doesn’t happen. Another study by Epsilon found that 80 percent of customers are more likely to buy from a business when they get a more personalized experience.
Keeping that in the mind, more and more businesses are leveraging technology tools as well as training their customer representatives to personalize their interactions.
Increased focus on self-service
Many contemporary customers want high-quality services and they want them fast. Some of them are willing to avail self-service to save their time. As per the latest data, two out of every five customers choose self-service over human interaction. As per a Dimension Data study, close to 75 percent of the respondents said that they prefer to use a business’s website, instead of using live chat, SMS, and social media for customer support.
As per a study conducted by Nuance, over 65 percent of customers choose self-service over contacting a company representative. Many businesses are looking to provide customer support resources for those who prefer to find solutions to their problems on their own.
Self-service not only does help customers to save time but it can also help businesses to save money. Businesses that provide self-service can save up to $3 million every year.
The rise in social media customer service
Over the last decade, social media has evolved a lot. From being a personal networking platform it’s now increasingly used as a digital marketing channel as well as a customer support tool. With a majority of businesses already on it, the rise in social media customer service shouldn’t come as a surprise. If companies can leverage social media to reach out to their target audience, customers can do the same to reach out to businesses.
As per a recent study, eight in every ten customers are now leveraging social media platforms to engage with businesses. Another data states that 51 percent of customers are more likely to do repeat transactions with a company that responds to their messages on social media.
That’s why a majority of businesses have started using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to provide customer service. In fact, 85 percent of small and medium businesses use Twitter to provide customer service.
Remote working will become the new norm for customer service representatives
With a sizable number of customer service representatives already working from home, remote working will become the new norm for most, if not all, customer service representatives. As per Gartner’s 2021 Future of Work from Home for Support and Service Employees report, over three fourth of customer support and service functions have 80 to 100 percent of the employees working from home. The report also said that, as per the projections of almost 90 percent of support and service leaders, as much as 80 percent of their staff will work from home till 2023.
5 technologies that’ll drive the future of customer service
Technology advancements have always made customer service better and faster. In the rapidly changing digital landscape, businesses need to leverage the latest technologies to provide exceptional customer support and stay ahead of the competition. Here are five technologies that will drive the future of customer service.
UCaas and CCaas
UCaaS stands for Unified Communications as a Service and CCaaS stands for Contact Center as a Service.
The former is a cloud delivery model that provides a wide range of enterprise communication and collaboration solutions. It combines VoIP and text messaging into a complete communication platform and can enable customer service representatives to work from anywhere.
The latter is a cloud-based model that enables businesses to use a call center provider’s software and pay only for the technologies they require, which minimizes internal IT integration and support. Using it, customer service executives can respond to customers’ queries over a variety of communication channels as well as monitor high call volume and wait times.
Face-to-face video communication tools
More and more customers have started realizing the power of face-to-face interactions as well as eye contact with support executives. Many are demanding video call support to better understand products or services or watch the correct procedure to use them. In fact, as per a survey conducted by US-based live chat service provider Acquire, nearly 80 percent of customers said that they got their questions answered instantaneously with live video call support. Businesses will have to integrate face-to-face video communication tools in their customer support software to provide video chat support.
AR and VR
Augmented Reality (AR) will become the perfect catalyst to deliver real-time customer support in the future. Using it, customer service representatives can guide customers with the least effort. A report published by visual technology and AR technical support company TechSee found that businesses enhanced their first call resolution by 20 percent and reduced the need to dispatch a technician by 17 percent by using AR customer support.
Another study indicates that leading field service companies are 72 percent more likely to leverage AR client service and other visual communication tools than their average-performing counterparts. Like AR, VR will also help customer support executives to provide high-quality and life-like customer support.
AI and bots
A tiny segment of people was apprehensive that artificial intelligence (AI) and bots will automate customer support services and replace human representatives. But the truth is far from it. AI and bots won’t replace humans but complement their efforts. In recent times, AI and bots have changed the game in customer support by automating various repetitive tasks and enabling representatives to focus on other important and creative activities relating to customer support.
They also enhance self-service for customers and help them while the customer service team isn’t working. They also decrease vendor expenses and enhance customer satisfaction. As per one recent data, 80 percent of businesses are considering adopting AI for customer service in the next few months. Another data projected that AI and bots will account for nearly 85 percent of customer interactions, which will enhance customer experience.
ML and deep learning
Machine learning (ML) is a field of computer science that uses algorithms to parse huge volumes of data, learn from it, and make informed decisions from it. Deep learning, on the other hand, is a subfield of machine learning that needs more data points to make accurate decisions. Both ML and deep learning are extremely crucial to personalize customer service and make data-driven customer service decisions.
All in all,
With rapid digital transformation and changes in customers’ tastes and preferences, customer service has evolved a lot in the past few years. The emerging trends, new technologies, and ways of work will drive the evolution as well as shape the future of customer service.