Written by: Michael Gilmore
We all know how important customer care is for the success of any business. But have you ever wondered why?
The customer service is the first (usually the only) contact your target user has with the organization. If it’s a great experience, they will form a good opinion about your business. If the support center fails to perform up to the expectations, your reputation will suffer.
The customer satisfaction score , which most business owners tend to measure, is an important indicator of the company’s growth. The customer service plays a huge role in the factor of satisfaction.
So how will successful brands improve their customer support efforts in 2018? What trends should we expect to see? That’s what we’re here for today. We’ll list the most anticipated trends, which are supposed to help us bring a better experience to our users.
Trend #1: Bots Will Take Over
I know what you’re thinking: bots can’t be as effective as humans. You immediately envision a robotic online chat, where you ask specific questions and get standardized answers such as “We’re always glad to help. How can we assist you in the product’s purchase?” You didn’t even want to buy the product; you were just wondering about one of its features.
But, you’re wrong. Customer support bots have come a long way.
Alana Barton, head of the customer support department at ResumesPlanet , explains: “In certain situations, bots can be even more effective than human support. The improvements will continue! They will be getting too sophisticated for us to ignore.”
We expect chatbots, whether text or voice activated, to grow towards responding with increased personalization. AVA (Autodesk Virtual Agent) has already headed in that direction. It responds in natural language, with the speed and effectiveness we’d expect from a human customer support agent.
The best part about bots is the fact that they save us money. As the need for more vibrant customer support service grows, we won’t have to invest in new employees. We’ll have the bot to respond to the growing demand.
Trend #2: Social Media Is Where Everything Happens
We’ve all transferred most of our marketing efforts on social media. It’s superior to banner ads, podcasts, or any other contemporary marketing technique. Our target customers prefer social media, too. They get most of their information there. They use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms to check the products or services they want to buy. They want to see social proof, and we’re providing it.
However, the potential and current customers also want their questions answered via social media. If you check Upwork’s official Facebook profile , you’ll notice that the users of the platform are asking questions there, and the representatives respond. The team also posts important updates on the profile. The company maintains its profiles on Twitter and Instagram too, but Facebook is the place where the users get in direct contact with the customer support.
This trend is good, and it will grow. The future of customer support is in responsive social media teams.
Trend #3: It’s Still about the People in It
Yes; customer support will be getting more automatized. We’ll be seeing more chatbots and they will be more effective than ever. However, they can only be useful up to a certain point. For example, a chatbot does a great job in directing a customer towards the right department. It can provide great answers to frequently asked questions. When it comes to specific and unique issues, however, it can’t replace the customer support representative.
We’ll still need the agents. One of the main trends that will mark 2018 will be our attempt to hire and train more knowledgeable, skillful, and courteous representatives.
Trend #4: We’ll Stop Trying Too Hard
The attempt to delight our customers is omnipresent. We’re always trying to make them happier by providing a more convenient experience and higher satisfaction. Well, sometimes that’s irritating.
According to Harvard Business Review , delighting customers does not build loyalty. Reducing the department’s efforts (the work they do to solve a problem) does build greater loyalty. When brands want to please their users, they offer refunds or free products/services. That might make the customers happier, but it makes them only marginally more loyal.
It’s time to stop trying too hard. We don’t need artificially kind customer support representatives. We want effective ones. Everything should be easy. The customer seeks for a solution, and the customer support department provides it. That’s it. And that’s exactly why bots are gaining momentum.
Trend #5: More Personalization!
According to Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report , 72% of customers expect the customer support representatives to know their contact information, service history, and product details as soon as they initiate contact. Be honest: how many of the brands you’ve contacted are that efficient in integrating data across the support department? Not many, right? You have to provide your contact information, tell them something about the product you purchased, and only then you can tell them about the issue you’re facing.
That need to explain yourself is exactly what’s making online customer support centers less efficient than they could be. They have tons of data to use. They can see the customer’s history and track their preferences. It’s about time for brands to start providing a truly personalized support experience for their users.
Trend #6: 24/7 Support Systems
Plenty of online services already provide customer support around the clock. However, this trend is still not prevalent enough. We need to change that.
We’re dealing with generations that ignore the phone call as a traditional customer service channel. They want to get their information online, and they want it immediately. If they face an issue with your product in the middle of the night, they will try to contact your representatives right away. What if you just started using an online TV streaming service and it doesn't work? You’ve done everything to troubleshoot. You’ve been to the FAQs and you didn’t find an answer for your problem. The next step is: contact the support. If they don’t respond right away, you can’t have that movie night with your friends.
The trend is clear: we have to start providing 24/7 support for our customers. They need their answers ASAP!
The future of customer support is already here. We’re constantly striving to provide the most convenient user experience, but the needs of our users are ever-evolving. Are we ready to meet the new standards?