The customer service arena is undergoing an enormous shift. Digital transformation, and the widespread availability of new technologies, is rapidly changing the way customers and companies interact.
Indeed, for many successful brands, customer service has gone from being an afterthought or IT issue to a central part of the company’s strategy and offering.
Here, we take a look at five emerging trends:
1. Shifting customer priorities and expectations
While most brands know that the customer isn’t always necessarily right, one thing’s for sure – today’s customers do know their rights.
Thanks to price comparison sites, peer review platforms and social media, today’s savvy consumers are increasingly well informed about the best deal or most suitable product for their needs, and of course, good service.
When everything else is comparable, good customer service is a key differentiator between products and brands.
Gone are the days when customers will accept lousy service as par for the course, today’s consumers expect more from their favourite brands – rapid, attentive and personalised service is key.
Indeed, according to the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index: “employees’ friendliness, helpfulness and competence have become relatively more important, as well as speed of service.”
2. Contact through multiple channels
Most consumers have a host of devices at their disposal – phones, iPads, computers, and yes, even pen and paper. Omnichannel customer service is a reality.
While the majority (58%) of customers still use one channel of communication, many (34.1%) of consumers do use two channels. Some even use three or more.
In this instance there’s a definite need for companies to be able to see the bigger picture and have information of all these interactions at their fingertips, so that customer service agents can join the dots and deliver seamless service from wherever the question comes.
“Customers want to choose the ways in which they interact and have become less tolerant of organisations that fail to integrate their operational channels into a seamless, coherent set of experiences,” according to the Institute of Customer Service.
3. Surprising demographics
It might be easy to think that customer service through social media is something for younger generations, while older generations prefer written communications or the phone but you’d be surprised.
While customer service through social media is indeed more prevalent among younger demographics, it’s not solely limited to this age group.
Conversely, customer service by phone is still an important tool and point of contact among younger generations, who still want personal contact and service. For now at least the call centre is here to stay.
4. Greater importance placed on customer service
Unsurprisingly, brands themselves are reacting and placing greater importance on the role and function of customer service within their organisation. It’s shifting from being a sideline topic to the heart of many successful brands, who know that it’s important to put the customer at the heart of customer service.
And in a competitive commercial environment, it’s clear that good customer service can make all the difference between a happy customer and a potential client who has gone elsewhere.
5. Move towards frequent testing
Making sure that the customer service channels are operating as they should, is also unsurprisingly of key importance. There can be nothing more frustrating than dropped calls, crackly phone lines and unclear processes.
Monitoring flags customer experience issues in real time and enabling companies to react quickly to any potential fault or problem. As customer service functioning becomes less of an IT issue and more of a central part of a company’s operation, monitoring and testing is critical in meeting customer expectations and giving companies the competitive edge.