With the big leaps we saw in customer service in 2017, looking at what’s in store for the coming year might be intimidating, but the industry will no doubt continue to evolve and provide a better customer service experience for customers, agents and managers. Let’s take a look at the five trends that we believe will make a big impact in 2018.
1. 24/7 Self Service
As the population matures, the face of customer service has changed drastically. Instead of calling a company for a live agent, customers today prefer to sort things on their own with digital self-service options. According to Gartner, 85% of customer-brand relationships will be done without human interaction by 2020. The focus will instead be on self-service.
We’ll see better equipped websites with the tools for customers to resolve their concerns without needing to call a number, detailed FAQ, tutorials and self-help resources, and advanced chatbots with natural language processing.
2. Messenger Integration
While voice isn’t just going to go away anytime soon, the popularity of chat support is up, according to a study by the ICMI. Chat adoption is up to 58% in 2014, with a compound annual growth rate of 24% up to 2018. In addition, customers prefer chat: CSAT (Customer Service Satisfaction) scores for chat went up to 92% when using chat through a mobile device. 62% of customers want chat support on mobile devices, and 82% of them said they would use it.
This will go to the next level in 2018, as faster and smarter chat bots respond to customers in real time and assist with concerns that used to be the purview of live agents. A chatbot can handle a wide array of common problems, with a human only needing to step in when the concern is especially complex.
Further, Facebook and WhatsApp have opened up their messenger platforms for website and business integration. This allows users to reach a business for customer service support, to check the status of their orders and deliveries, or even place orders directly through messenger.
3. Customer Experience Analytics
Doubtless you’ve heard of the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 Rule. It’s the idea that the majority of the world’s wealth is concentrated in the top 20% of the population. The big trend of online and digital gaming knows this very well with the freemium market: for every 80 people who play the game for free, 20 are spending big money in the cash shop.
This applies to other markets as well. Macy’s has reported that 46% of their sales come from just 9% of their customers. The implication: focus on your best customers. While every customer is important, modern technology using Customer Experience Analytics software finds trends during interactions with the customers instantly, rather than relying on slow feedback surveys. This lets your company focus on retaining your best customers through timely initiatives.
Another exciting area for customer service is called geofencing. Smart devices today are capable of tracking your location to enhance the experience. For instance, if you enter into a retail shop, the store can instantly push a reward coupon to your smartphone, which you’ll receive as an email or a message in real time.
These location-based technologies enable retailers and services like restaurants and hotels to recognize you as you enter the premises, allowing the business to tailor their services to your profile. It’s a goldmine for marketing and customer service, although people will need to get past the privacy concerns around the idea. Still, MarketsandMarkets forecasts that the geofencing industry will grow from $542 million in 2017 to $1.8 billion in 2022, an annual growth rate of 27.5%. That is a huge trend to follow.
5. Automated Administrative Tasks
As any long-time customer service manager or agent can tell you, the amount of bookkeeping needed to document a customer interaction accounts for a lot of handling time and work. This is important, as records of interactions are important for future call backs and analytics. This is all repetitive work that can take up precious hours of an employee’s day.
Fortunately, cloud-based contact center technologies today have managed to simplify even the most complex customer service processes and tasks into an automated routine, using advanced AI to pick up important trends and details in a call, chat or other interaction and documenting it properly, while posting the data to the larger whole for trend analysis.