Customer service expectations are higher than ever before. Today, consumers view your standard of service as a key differentiator in their decision to work with your brand over its competitors. In fact, 96% of customers claim customer service is "important" when determining their loyalty to a brand.
That means you can't stand still when it comes to the service you provide. You must keep innovating and improving to keep consumers happy, as well as stay on top of the latest customer service trends. It's important to understand how the sector is evolving if you want to stay ahead of the curve.
In this post, we'll look at some enterprise customer service trends you should know about this year. They include broad ideas and specific channels set to rise now and beyond, putting your firm at the vanguard of modern customer service.
Enterprise Customer Service Trends
Omnichannel Support Systems
Higher Focus on Custom Success
Social Media Customer Service
Real-Time Customer Support
Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence
Personalized Customer Service
Video & Streaming
Remote & Freelance Customer Service Agents
1. Omnichannel Support Systems
Consumers use many devices and channels when interacting with companies. That's led to an increase in omnichannel support systems where seamless service is provided at all points of the customer journey, regardless of the channel.
No matter how a customer makes contact, your firm should respond effectively. That's the central premise of omnichannel support. More than that, it's about providing an integrated customer experience across all channels, as outlined in the graphic below.
Omnichannel support requires companies to take a holistic, customer-centric view. This means that the channel the customer uses to contact a firm doesn't matter. What matters is delivering a consistent customer experience at all times.
The key to developing effective omnichannel support is having an efficient communication setup. Many firms turn to unified communications solutions to support omnichannel customer service. With all communications on one platform, it's easier to offer consistent support across channels.
2. Higher Focus on Customer Success
Another developing trend in customer service is a change in how companies view customer success. Traditional customer service is about responding to customers. It's about answering questions or issues that those customers approach you with. That's, by nature, a passive and reactive process.
Forward-thinking businesses are taking a more proactive approach. They're thinking about customer success as well as customer service. The world's fast-growing companies are already installing dedicated customer success teams and 83% of such teams grew in size in 2018. Focusing on customer success means doing all you can to make sure consumers get their desired outcomes.
Businesses that emphasize customer success predict and prevent issues. They take a proactive approach by tailoring their service to ensure problems don't crop up at all. This helps them offer value to customers at every turn in the brand experience.
3. Social Media Customer Service
Social networks are no longer a place for adverts and promotional material alone. Now, firms are starting to think about social media as a channel for customer support.
According to Value Walk, 63% of customers expect support via social media and its usage is highest among millennials. That means expectations for help via the channel will increase as future generations continue to adopt it.
Businesses need to embrace social media as a means to interact more closely with customers. You can offer superior service via social networks in a variety of ways, including:
Responding to complaints and solving issues publicly on a Tweet or post. Doing so displays your commitment to service.
Answering customer queries and sharing links to useful resources.
Getting ahead of problems by explaining things through your social accounts. This is particularly helpful if a new product has a confusing element or suffers a setback.
Thanking followers for kind comments or positive reviews. It's good practice to respond to Google Reviews and other customer comments away from social media, too.
4. Real-Time Customer Support
Consumers – and people in general – want things now, if not before. That's as true of customer service as it is of anything else. People with issues or questions, expect firms to provide an almost instant response, as detailed by the graphic below.
That's why more businesses are turning to real-time support. Visit any commercial website, and you're likely to find a live chat option. Features like these ensure a customer can get immediate support for urgent issues.
And, that kind of instant support helps boost customer satisfaction and has a positive impact on a business's conversion rate. If a customer can solve their issue while they're still on your site, they're more likely to go ahead and buy something.
5. Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence
Some of the live chat options we mentioned above get operated by human agents. Many of them, though, use AI-driven chatbots.
Chatbots are like virtual assistants. They answer customers' questions without the need of a human agent.
These AI tools employ algorithms to recognize and respond to customer questions. They can also perform simple service tasks like offering price estimates or pointing people to knowledge base resources. In short, chatbots can deliver a rounded real-time support option for a fraction of the cost of a human rep.
Thanks to machine learning, chatbots can also improve over time. Machine learning is the process of analyzing data, IDing patterns, and drawing conclusions. In the case of chatbots, it means that the more queries a chatbot deals with, the better its responses will be.
6. Personalized Customer Service
Personalization is a familiar tactic in marketing and sales. Customer service is now following suit as businesses are providing unique product recommendations and promotions to customers after a purchase is made.
Collecting and processing data is crucial for customer service personalization. You can capture customer data throughout their journey with your brand, and doing so provides many opportunities for tailored, unique customer service provision.
For instance, if you're a retailer with both online and brick-and-mortar stores, your in-store staff could have access to what visitors have browsed or bought online. With that information, they can offer in-store personalized service that matches what the consumer gets online.
7. Video & Streaming
Video is a highly effective means of communication. It's an engaging channel that helps brands convey complex information quickly. To date, video and live streaming have been used mostly for marketing alone, but in the coming years, firms are set to leverage its power for customer service.
‘How to' videos are a straightforward example. Nowadays, seeking out a video online when you need to learn how to do something is the norm for many people. And, customer service providers are wising up to this fact.
By offering video resources as an alternative to phone or email support, brands can communicate information more enjoyably. There's a range ways that you can use video for customer support, like:
Q & A live streams to answer customer queries.
Webinars or video courses to explain product features and applications.
Embedded videos in emails. Such videos visually display how a customer can overcome the problem they're experiencing. Using video for customer service in this way builds on a trend of using visual elements for email marketing.
8. Remote & Freelance Customer Service Agents
Another technological advancement is the capability to work remotely. As call center software continues to improve, more customer service teams can work from home. And, if we look at the chart below, we can see that customer service continues to become a remote-friendly field.
Today, agents only need an internet connection and a way to link up with the company's network to access all the info and systems needed to effectively serve customers.
If your staff doesn't need to work from a central location, you have a broader pool of talent to hire from. And, remote work gives employees greater freedom and flexibility, making it easier to retain your customer service staff.
9. Customer Self-Service
Customer self-service is no longer a concept confined to the grocery store. Consumers often prefer to solve issues by themselves and as many as 81% of customers try to troubleshoot issues independently before reaching out to your service team.
Providing self-service customer support is a win-win for businesses. Customers want the opportunity to solve problems quickly and privately. If they succeed, the customer service staff has less to do and can put more time and effort into issues that have urgent or complex solutions.
With advantages all around, self-service customer support is only going to grow. The most straightforward way to get on board with the trend is by building a knowledge base. That's a collection of resources aimed at helping customers educate themselves. It can include FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and other problem-solving content.
Staying on Top of Customer Service Trends
Like all areas of business, customer service never stands still. The sector evolves and develops with advances in tech and changes in consumer demand.
Today, customer service is as vital as ever. Consumers have lots of choices and will use your customer service as a means of decision making. Understanding popular trends and capitalizing on the opportunities they present will help your business stay ahead of the competition.