It is the time of the year that we start asking the big question – how will customer service and customer experience evolve over the next 12 months – and what can we do to keep up with changing trends and meet consumer expectations?
Improving customer support has become more important than ever. According to Forrester, 72% of companies say that improving the customer service and customer experience is their top priority. Another study from NewVoiceMedia indicates that companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service. Who can afford that?
Here are three customer service trends to watch for in 2018:
Automation – with particular emphasis on AI and self-service
There is no need to convince anybody about advantages of customer service automation. A lot of businesses will turn to AI to automate their customer support in 2018.Technology will become more present in day to day job of customer service agents. We are at the beginning of automating as much as possible to reduce headcount and maintain a consistent experience. The trends in customer service automation will focus on this 3 areas:
- Artificial Intelligence –Artificial Intelligence is coming to the forefront of how a company creates a better customer experience. Machines’ ability to interact with humans is stronger than ever. AI will help us make better business decisions, many of them positively impacting We also predict a shift toward implementing a “hybrid workforce”. In a hybrid workforce people and machines combine strengths and compensate for one another’s limitations, enhancing the customer experience.
- Chat Bots – These computer applications which mimic humans by using natural language technology will be used more and more at the front line to allow organizations to scale their web support capabilities, reduce costs and collect more data. When a machine can create a positive experience for the customer, everyone wins. The best chatbots are able to not only respond to requests and questions, but also recognize when the customer is confused and seamlessly hand off the conversation to a live customer support representative.
- Automated self-service – Today’s customers require great customer service but also, what is even more important – speed. Nobody has time to wait on the phone to be connected to customer service agent. There is why companies had to think of some forms of self-service to let customers find their answers quickly, and with the technology evolving so fast there is no reason why not use it. Most popular self-service forms are web forums and FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Some companies predict that by 2020, the phone will be used only as a back-up when all self-service channels fail.
There is no doubt that personalization creates a better customer experience. Technology has made it easier than ever to track customer preferences and history. Most customers already expect to be treated as individuals with specific preferences, and that trend will only become more evident in 2018.
But how will businesses meet these demands? The answer is data.
Big data gives us trends and insights with uncanny accuracy, so there is no reason to not create a more personalized experience that caters to a customer’s individual needs.
Customer experience is important, and we have an obligation to make customer support directed to the individual and their concern.
We think that 2018 will be the year that Omnichannel becomes a reality for many customer support centers. Today, businesses are supporting an average of nine customer contact channels to deliver a multichannel experience. We expect that to rise to 11 in the next six months or so. The biggest challenge for companies now is to get different channels to interact with each other. What can make this easier is the increasing number of cloud-based services that can support omnichannel by reducing costs of entry and deeper integration with CRM and similar platforms. It means that real-time information can now be employed to support live channel switching and migration – a key building block to true omnichannel service.