If you own a smartphone, you're probably familiar with 4G. It's the network that allows our phones to download data and watch those all-important cat videos on our morning commute.
But, over the last few years, developers have been working on the next generation of this wireless technology and are excited for the leap forward in capacity and speed that 5G will bring compared to the current 4G option.
Download speed and latency -- the time it takes for data to load -- are two areas where 5G presents the most upside. Predictions show that download speeds with 5G could be one thousand times faster than 4G. That means that a download that today takes 20 minutes or more will be completed in seconds with 5G.
The graphic below shows how this download speed will vary by network generation.
Latency with a 5G connection could be as quick as one millisecond or even less, compared to current general latency levels which are around 50 milliseconds with 4G.
The other significant advantage is capacity. 5G can support up to a million devices per square kilometer. This is 10 times the capacity of 4G, which can support up to 100 thousand devices per square kilometer. This increase in capacity is necessary to deal with the growing number of internet-enabled devices.
As we continue to explore this technology, the impact of 5G will be wide-ranging. Improved standards for connection and download speeds will open new avenues for businesses across each department. And, one area that's sure to feel an impact is customer service.
In this post, let's review some of the ways 5G will impact the future of customer service.
5G & Customer Service
The rollout of 5G will have a massive impact on customer service as a faster, more reliable network will help businesses in two ways: It'll drastically improve their current customer service offers and it'll allow for the creation of new customer service solutions.
The significance of 5G will unfold over time. The following, though, are six different ways that we can expect it to influence the customer service sector.
1. Advanced Real-Time Personalization
Firms that deliver great customer service often take a customer-centric view. They keep the happiness of each customer at the forefront of their minds in the experiences they provide. You should focus on improving the experience for those customers as the cost of acquiring new customers is generally higher than retaining ones that make repeat purchases.
Businesses need to collect and act upon customer data to deliver personalized experiences. 5G allows quicker data collection and in higher volume. Advanced personalization, therefore, will become more accessible to a broader range of companies.
As things stand, it's easier for larger companies to achieve excellent online personalization. Take Amazon, for example. The retail giant collects user data to personalize the content you see when you visit their site.
When you head back to Amazon for another purchase, the page you'll see will be different. Products you've shown a preference towards will be given higher billing and shown on your homepage. You'll also see up-selling or cross-selling offers based on your prior purchases, like in the example below.
With 5G, this personalization will become more advanced. If data is processed and delivered faster, artificial intelligence (AI) tools will become smarter. You'll be able to quickly train these tools as you can provide them with a greater volume of customer data to process. As such, they'll be able to deliver more accurate predictions of what customers want, and those predictions can get generated far more rapidly with 5G.
Real-time or predictive personalization could impact more than just the digital world. It could change the shape of face-to-face retail customer service as well.
For example, Target recently acquired Powered Analytics. The company's software connects with Target's app, then uses data on both the store and its customers to deliver customized recommendations. As a result, customers receive product recommendations in real-time, as they walk around a store.
Those kinds of developments enable better crossover between the digital and physical customer journey. 5G can help brands process data on customers who may visit both their sites and their stores and that can help deliver hyper-personalized customer experiences beyond the digital world.
2. Improved Augmented and Virtual Reality Experiences
Customer service is already experimenting with augmented and virtual reality to improve customer experience. Furniture giant IKEA allows customers to virtually place items within their own homes. Cosmetics firm, L'Oréal, has an app that allows customers to test out new hairstyles and colors.
5G will make such immersive customer experiences more user-friendly. Wholly immersive AR and VR experiences typically face issues when latency is too high. And, when there are delays of over 20 milliseconds, users start to feel nauseous.
The much lower latency associated with 5G takes away this problem. Immersive consumer experiences, be it AR or VR, will seem and feel more real than ever before. The utility of those experiences to customers, therefore, will be significantly more valuable.
3. Improve Remote Phone Support
Phone support is another area where customer service is likely to be transformed by 5G. Modern call centers already use 4G to provide a high level of customer service and most use VoIP to ensure reliable call quality.
Twinning such systems with 5G will further improve this service. The higher speeds of 5G and the ability to connect more devices means that agents are no longer confined to one location. Teams can work remotely and still prove the same high-quality phone support.
One of the key benefits of a VoIP phone system is its portability. The only thing that can hold that back is a connection that can't handle the demands of its system. 5G has the speed and the latency needed to manage this technology. Customer service agents will be empowered by 5G to deliver top-class support on the move or from their homes.
4. Accessibility to Video Support
With 5G, a customer service call can be far more than merely spoken advice.
A better network connection can handle ultra-high-resolution video calls where agents can observe the problems that callers are having first-hand. This troubleshooting environment makes it easier for reps to guide customers to a solution, especially when dealing with a complex or highly-technical issue.
5. Increase in IoT Devices and Self-Service Options
The Internet of Things (IoT) is not a new idea. Smart, connected devices that communicate with one another have been around for years. Thanks to lower latency and improved reliability, 5G will allow for more of these devices, as predicted in the graphic below.
The combination of IoT and 5G may reduce the need for large customer service teams. That's because connected devices and speedy networks allow consumers to perform maintenance on devices at home.
Smart-home devices, like thermostats, can already predict the need for maintenance. With a 5G connection, people will be able to utilize AR to learn how to maintain and fix minor issues with their products.
It's not a pipedream to imagine a situation where you can diagnose and fix an issue without any outside input. A smart-home device could tell its owner of a developing problem. That owner could then utilize an app to fully identify the issue, learn the needed solution, and apply it. This removes a significant amount of friction from the customer experience.
6. Improved Utilization of Big Data
The proliferation of smart devices has fueled a massive rise in data generation and can be observed in the graphic below.
You need a vast amount of processing power to harness and analyze this volume of data. You also need low-latency and fast, reliable connections to share and transfer this data.
Modern graphics processing units (GPUs) handle the former, while 5G will take care of the latter. Companies, therefore, will find it much easier to utilize customer data which can help inform their customer service efforts.
5G will allow firms to collect vast amounts of data daily. Its ability to support massive connectivity across devices, too, means speedier data analytics. Companies will process massive, unstructured data sets and draw meaningful insights from them in minutes.
For more tools that will influence the future of business, read about this customer service technology.
Originally published Dec 30, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated June 09 2021