What is the Future of Customer Service?

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Customer Service, like everything else in this generation, is changing rapidly. Many businesses are at risk unless they adapt to the changing customer service landscape or at least put strategies in place that can better handle the modern customer’s demands. But what exactly are the modern customer’s demands? We’ve compiled a list (by no means comprehensive) of a few trends, predictions and technologies that can help your business better adapt in the coming years.

Trending in Customer Service

Self-Service

A paper by Steven Van Belleghem discusses four ways that consumers’ demands have been ratcheted up: “speed, amiability, a solution in a single interaction, the integration of different service channels.” But for smaller, traditional customer service businesses, providing everything all at once is going to be expensive. One strategy Van Belleghem suggests is to bolster self-service. There are even new business models cropping up based on self-serviced customer service. One company, Zendesk, talks about the omni-channel customer service gap. In a white paper on the subject, Zendesk argues that sales experiences have become more seamless across platforms (like chat, SMS, telephone, online ordering), but that customer service has been left behind. One trend we see in the coming years is the greater integration of self-service in customer service.

 

Crowd Service

Consumers not only want to help themselves, but they want to help each other. Consider recent companies in the headlines—Air BnB, 99 Dresses and Odesk. Each of these companies is based on crowd-sourcing and social sharing of hotel rooms, clothes and freelancers, respectively. As new business models are introduced into a market, traditional models are supplanted by ones that are fulfill consumer demands more quickly and at a higher quality. Jeremiah Owyang spells it out further in his study of collaborative economies. Crowd-service could well be the next disruption in customer service, and for companies that are ready for the shift, it could be a new way to lower costs and expand quality of service.

 

Personal Feel in a Digital Age

Whether a customer is on Twitter, chatting via the website or calling your contact center, they still crave a personalized experience. Offering this human touch is something online-only behemoths like Amazon haven’t quite figured out. Self-service completely anonymizes customer service. In crowd-sourced service, there is an element of the personal—a human-to-human connection that can build brand loyalty. But personalized customer service, Van Belleghen argues, will long remain a safety net even as crowd and self-service continue to accelerate.

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Trending in Technology

Going Mobile

You’re probably sick of hearing it, as much as we are, but everything is moving to mobile. Bloomberg News predicts that by 2015, 2 billion people worldwide will be using smartphones.  Companies without mobile options, therefore, are not only at a current disadvantage, but also putting themselves at risk of cutting off clientele in the coming years.  Smartphones are becoming more intimately involved in people’s everyday lives, and making the smartphone a go-to channel in customer service may be the difference between survival and extinction.

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Social Media

Customers need to be reached through the channels that they seek information through the most.  More people are checking their social media networks than watching TV nowadays.  According the Aberdeen Group, 70% of businesses will use social media outlets for customer service techniques by middle of this year.  Moreover, social media will play a much larger role in brand management and mass communication models as customers will have a wider base of information on faults in the business or product.

 

Data, data, data

By 2020, the customer will be informed and in charge of their experience.  You will need to display proactive customer service and have developed a unified omni-channel experience that meets each customer’s individual needs. Customers expect to get as close to perfection as they can get in a consumer experience.  In fact, it is projected that customer experience will be more important than price or product. Budgeting for customer retention strategies is going to be key for building brand loyalty. No matter what year it is, in business customer loyalty is key to success, so maintaining the customer base that you already have, perfecting their experiences, and collecting data on how to do it best are the keys to keeping future customers happy as well.

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Ultimately, your business needs to keep the personal element intact while expanding technologically. Here at Robert C. Davis and Associates, we are consistent in offering the training, coaching and consulting necessary to keep each agent feeling like an individual asset to your call centers. While multichannel approaches need to integrate the data collected, we can help you implement the right strategies to change your business for the better and retain more customers in the long-run.