As per a recent report published in a well-known publication, it is revealed that more and more companies are training their customer service and sales employees in AI, so that they can work with and make the best use of chatbots, virtual assistants, and robotic process automation. It is reported that the size of cloud-based contact centers are expected to grow from USD 5.43 billion in 2016 to a staggering USD 15.67 billion by the year 2021.
2018 will be the year of artificial intelligence. It will be characterized by innovation and change, especially in terms of customer service. Keeping customers satisfied and happy will be all the more important for companies this year, across industries and geographies. Companies are slowly realizing that the customer service function is more than being a mere cost center. It has become a strategic function which can bring down customer retention rates considerably and also aid in cross-selling.
In this fast-paced business environment, it is important for companies to stay updated with the latest developments of the industry. To make things easy, we have listed some of the top customer service trends for 2018 and beyond -
The customer service department is one of the most important departments in every company. It interacts with customers regularly and aids in forming an impression of the company. Companies will come up with newer ways to please their customers, making better use of technology in this area. Different kinds of services will emerge which will enable better customer interaction. The entire goal of this department is to make customers' lives easier, and form an emotional connect with them. Technology in this department has already enabled customers with live chats and messages, and other self-service platforms, but what's next? There could be automated services available in different languages according to the customer's preference and convenience.
Mobile support and live chat will rise. For example, Facebook has enabled its messenger for website integration which has allowed several companies to offer their customers a way to connect easily, without having to switch to facebook.com. Similarly, WhatsApp has also launched a business-centric version to streamline communication, transactions, order history, etc. seamlessly. Due to an increase in self service solutions and new technologies, customers will be provided with an option where they can, from the comfort of their place or while doing some work, just ping or drop a message regarding their query, and it will be addressed. This empowers customers and also greatly helps clients who do not like to speak with somebody to resolve their queries.
Augmented reality is one of the new trends in the customer service domain. It enables customers to view and experience products and the services without having to request customer service professionals for the same. This technology keeps the entire purchasing process simple and easy for customers. A lot of companies will be investing heavily in this space.
Earlier, companies would focus on having dedicated clouds for their sales and marketing programs. However, keeping in mind the growing importance of customer journeys, companies are developing customer experience clouds which integrate key information like customer data and their preferences, and aim to build personalized experiences to delight and retain customers. Customization also helps customers save precious time that they might have had to spend on seeing products or services that are not meant for them.
With the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking prominence, companies will have to make stringent rules regarding how they treat sensitive customer data. Customer service reps will have to seek permission from customers and get their consent before processing personally identifiable information (PII).
With customers becoming more aware of the entire sourcing process, understanding where products have come from, before buying, companies will have to maintain a transparent supply chain function by leveraging the blockchain technology. As per a recent report, a Blockchain supply chain can help participants record price, date, location, quality, certification, and other relevant information to more effectively manage the supply chain.
Concierge-style bots will be on the rise which will be aimed at helping customers quickly address simple issues. It will listen to customer woes patiently and then interpret human language (whether written or spoken) leveraging the natural language processing (NLP) technology.
Customers will rely more on self-service solutions, wherein they will only have to type a message or record an issue, and it will be immediately addressed. As the self-service model will grow and take over, employees will have more time to address customers' queries faster, and resolve them quicker. According to the current customer service trends in the market, automated services have worked wonders, and companies have already started to use them. This only shows that there is going to be an increase in such kind of automated services.
As making customers happy and working towards building a connection between them and the brand is crucial, CEOs will be take it upon themselves to be directly involved in their company's customer service operations and connect with customers to enhance their experience and strengthen their association with the brand. When a CEO talks to customers and understands their queries, this not only ensures that customers are made to feel important, but also helps CEOs directly understand the problems that customers are facing.
As important as customers are, more important is their time. Customers do not spend much time on a brand if their services aren't quick, as they can as easily turn to another brand that provides the same service in a quicker time. If service response time is slow, then customers will lose interest in the brand and think of switching to another brand. Companies will have to value the time of their customers' time and leverage technology to give them the desired services within a quick turnaround time.
These are some of the top customer service trends that will be prevalent in 2018. This industry is a growing industry and a very crucial one for companies to do better in the market, and build a better connection with their customers. Technology will only grow in this field with newer digital codes taking over the older, existing ones, with the ultimate objective of making customers' experience a better one.
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According to a benchmark study in 2016, up to 75% of companies that participated in the study stated that their topmost organizational objective was to enhance customer experience. Now that you have gone through the top 10 customer trends for 2018, you know where you have to focus this year. We, at Outsource2india, are in-tune with the latest customer service trends, and follow industry best practices while offering services to our customers.
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