Technology has revolutionized the way companies work. Automation, connectivity and artificial intelligence have improved the ways of approaching different tasks, including customer service.
With each new improvement, customer expectations grow and it is the responsibility of the company to meet these expectations in order to deliver a high level of experience and to keep many more people loyal. So here’s what every business leader needs to know about the future of customer service.
What is customer service?
Simply put, customer service is about helping a customer solve problems, purchase a product, or execute certain transactions.
Most of these interactions consist of a customer requesting assistance from a company to run an errand, ask a question, make an observation or file a complaint. Quickly the agent in charge who has been contacted should provide the person with the support or type of assistance as appropriate.
The quality of customer service usually plays an important role in the reputation of any company. It is basically a litmus test, because it allows you to determine whether the service provided by the company is good or bad. If your customers have a bad experience in this area, they probably won’t want to come back. So it’s important to give them a good experience.
In case you need evidence, according to a study conducted by Microsoft Dynamics, worldwide, 90% of consumers believe that customer service is a very important quality when choosing a brand.
Now that we’ve gone over the importance of this topic, the question remains, why is it so important to know and adapt to new methods of customer service?
Consumers have become accustomed to the conveniences of the digital age, they expect answers and accurate attention as soon as they need it. However, such an efficient service sometimes escapes human hands. It requires automated processes accompanied by artificial intelligence trained to act as a normal person would. But this always, without completely leaving aside human warmth, because in many cases, especially in the most punctual ones, your customers will be waiting for understanding from who -or what- is attending them.
Balance is necessary, taking advantage of the innovations that science has not granted for the simplest tasks, reserving the human part for the most complex problems.
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With this in mind, let’s move on to learn how the digital evolution will improve customer service in the future:
1. Multichannel in conjunction with omnichannel
In the past it was common that if you were in trouble, you had to necessarily phone for help. Little by little this has been changing. The first innovation came with text messages, then with the internet came emails, chats, video calls, to open up a wide range of possibilities.
Today, thanks to the existence of digital stores, social networks and opinion websites, among others, there are several interaction platforms that serve as a bridge between customers and the company.
Due to this wide selection of channels, the improvement that is expected for the future, and that you will have to use if you want to stay ahead, will be the implementation of omnichannel. What does this mean? That beyond offering different platforms, these in turn will work connected and in sync, making it easier for both your customer service team and your customers to interact.
For example, instead of making customers navigate away from their social media profile, your service team will be able to respond to them from wherever they are interacting with the company. This will reduce churn in the service experience because customers won’t have to leave one interface to enter another only to keep getting stuck on the same problem.
But to achieve this, you’ll need to enable a helpdesk as the primary inbox for all incoming customer inquiries. This way, no matter where an online interaction is initiated, your agents will use the same interface to communicate with any customer.
2. The IA will take control of basic tasks.
Has it ever happened to you that when you enter a website, a chat bubble pops up and asks you if you need help? This type of tool is known as a chatbot, and although it is not properly a form of AI, which means Artificial Intelligence, it is a good way to start inducing artificial intelligence in a company, because it is a technology that precedes it and is still in force.
These bots are usually developed by a designer who, usually based on real data, tries to predict the needs of consumers in order to prepare a series of appropriate responses and dialogues for those requesting assistance. The main advantage of their use is that they can serve a large number of people at once, at any time and on any day. It requires no payments, no vacations, no sick leave, no forgotten details. Taking advantage of them means cost savings because it is a repeatable and inexpensive method of communication.
Of course, these chats are not infallible, it may happen that the client is not satisfied with any of the programmed answers, and it is the designer’s task to be aware of these signals to improve the performance of the service. The complicated part lies in the fact that many times these data could be overwhelming and contain many variables, that’s why, for the designer’s peace of mind, it will be essential to have in the future an artificial intelligence capable of analyzing this data and self-programming the answers as appropriate.
If the customer asks a certain question and seems to be dissatisfied with the answer, the tool could learn to take a different approach next time. In addition, AI will also streamline the access and processing of Big Data, which by tomorrow, if we can’t say from today, will become an indispensable tool to survive in the business world.
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3. Increase in the number of video calls
Don’t misunderstand us, with the previous point we didn’t mean to say that Call Centers are on the verge of extinction, but surely in the future their staff will be reduced much more, and the few that are in the department will have to be much more qualified to be able to attend really complicated cases and where that “human warmth” is expected.
What is one of the best ways to generate human warmth? Eye contact. Impersonal calls will be a thing of the past and companies that implement video will be one step ahead. Because there is no more real way to establish a relationship with your customer than by letting them know who is behind your company. This feature will even allow your customer service team to more comfortably solve any problems that arise. Imagine a user who doesn’t know how to navigate the shopping page, sharing the screen will make it easy for your employee to understand what is not being done right and how to guide them to solve it.
4. Real-time messaging over email.
No, email is not going to disappear either. But something similar will happen with video calls.
Customers will expect more direct availability if they need it. And we can all admit that the immediacy of chat feels much greater than any email. Facebook Messenger as a support channel is a good example and has moved us light years ahead. We can now chat with businesses in real time, and Facebook will even show you their average responsiveness.
This expectation of real-time messaging and response extends to other media as well. It’s not just the expectation on Facebook Messenger or Slack, but on-site chat and conversations are expected to be real-time, one-to-one and authentic.
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5. Social Networks will be the center of the claim
Nowadays we live surrounded by mobile devices, people are connected more than ever. Surely after having a bad time in some place you’ve waited for us to get home to post a bad review on your Twitter timeline, or maybe on some other more specialized app. Who knows, maybe you even had the opportunity to capture part of that bad experience through a video or a live video.
Social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to customer service, because yes, it allows brands to quickly connect with customers, but at the same time, they run the risk of making negative experiences public, especially the most negative ones. Just an isolated failure, such as a portion of raw potatoes in an order, could subtract thousands of diners to a restaurant, if the fact comes to light.
In the future, the barriers to entry for complaints will continue to lower as social media functionality evolves. Ten years ago, brands wouldn’t even consider handling complaints on Instagram, for example. Today, ignoring these channels poses a significant risk to reputation and customer satisfaction. Greater connectivity means more customer touchpoints, and the result will be an increased volume of enquiries and a growing burden on customer service teams. How brands approach these channels will be critical in determining the success of their service operations in the coming years.
BONUS: It’s all for now
It’s a reality, customers want everything now. If brands want to live up to these expectations, they will need to develop a strategy to address areas such as mobile messaging and outsourced customer service. They will need to consider the impact of digital evolution and automate simple tasks.
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At TAS Consultancy we are committed to helping companies adapt to these changes that the future brings, so they can increase customer satisfaction, protect their brands and potentially turn customer service into a profit center for your company.
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