In the future customer service will become increasingly savvy about how to deal with issues early on, even preventing them. Mobile technology, sensors and voice recognition will allow companies to communicate with the customer and add value in new ways. However most companies just aren’t there yet. They’re still figuring out social support.
So as you toast to the New Year I encourage you to think about how these five customer service trends will affect your customer service offering in 2015.
1. Every Customer Is A Multichannel Customer
Bloomberg predicts that global smartphone use will reach two billion by 2015. With the continued rise of smart phone technology some companies have made it easy for customers to text with their customer service agents. According to a recent study more than 50 percent of customers would prefer to text with an agent over other methods of communicating.
Your customer journey should make it very easy for the customer to actually get in touch with you. Cloud technologies can help your company prepare for this multichannel customer with smarter ways to track the customer as they jump channels. Not only will this power a simple customer experience, it will boost your customer loyalty and retention numbers. A recent study surveying 7,000 consumers found that in the last six months 67 percent of online shoppers made purchases that involved multiple channels; however, 87 percent said that brands must work harder to create a seamless experience for customers.
2. The Best Service is Still No Service For Many
In a survey Forrester recently found that web self-service was the most widely used communication channel for customer service, surpassing use of the voice channel for the first time. This provides further evidence that not everyone wants an emotional connection with your company. They just want a no fuss, self-service way to solve their problem. That doesn’t mean you should rush to the nearest automated assistant software, or predictive chat technology. These technologies can aid in your customer service strategy but it should be very easy for the customer to opt out and reach a human.
3. Social Support Tools Become More Advanced
Social support is no longer a nice-to-have for companies, it’s a must-have. The good news is today vendors have made it easier for brands to provide a more compelling customer experience on social. For example some vendors provide options to seamlessly take interactions off social media to a private phone call with an agent. The company’s Twitter account can tweet back to the customer with a custom link that works only for that customer. The phone number connects directly with an agent that can handle the issue. The number becomes deactivated afterward. Technologies like this make it exciting to think of how many ways we can communicate with the customer across channels without disclosing any private information. But in considering these emerging technologies, let’s not forget many brands are still very behind when it comes to social.
Is this because the needs of the brands go unmet? Or is it the fact that brands don’t want to dump their legacy technologies and practices overnight? Practitioners understand that many of their peers still struggle with multiple legacy technologies and complicated processes that make service frustrating for customers. That being said we will see more social support vendors get acquired by bigger fish that aim to offer full social support SaaS solutions—meeting full social support needs for brands.
4. How-To Content Becomes a Must
Future sensor technology will allow companies to sense when the customer is struggling with the product. This will trigger how-to content sent directly to that customer. For now most customers still use Google when they don’t know how to do something. People not only want to have easy access to how-to content when things break, they want to maximize the value out of the product they have. Really stand-out companies have full YouTube channels of how-to content in addition to blogs and other media. Remember that every company is a media company and your service department better have a voice. Lastly, all of that gorgeous content better be mobile and tablet friendly!
5. Service Finally Catches the Eye of Your CEO
2015 will be the year that the CEO truly makes service a priority. Not only will leadership make service a priority but increasingly we will see customer service backed with dollars, technologies and people resources. If there’s one reminder that this is happening it’s the global appointments of Chief Customer Officers. The Chief Customer Officer Council documents there are 450 executives worldwide with the Chief Customer Officer title or having comparable authority and responsibilities under a different title. Increasingly CEOs give service a seat at the executive table.
These are some of the exciting developments I believe will change the customer service landscape in 2015. Feel free to share some of your ideas with me in the comments section below.
For more customer strategy content follow Blake Morgan on Twitter @BlakeMichelleM.