The rise of technology has changed the customer service experience. In the next few years, it will continue to move away from human interaction towards an artificial exchange that is reliable, productive, and most importantly, fast. Whether you are a start-up or an established business, it is important to stay abreast of the changes in the customer service arena so you can understand the effect of both current and future trends.
One thing businesses experts agree upon is that face-to-face contact will continue to decrease as technology becomes even more prevalent in the business world. Most customers are no longer interested in a person-to-person interaction, as long as their concerns are adequately and timely addressed. Automated or computer-oriented customer service applications are taking the place of what many in the business industry feel is an antiquated system.
Customer service specialists like Forbes have outlined a variety of customer service trends they believe will have an impact on businesses of all sizes in the upcoming year. They include:
The Best Service is Still No Service for Many
It has been predicted that global smartphone use will surpass two billion by the year 2016. Companies that have taken advantage of society’s dependence on smartphones have become leaders in customer service applications. As the Millennial generation continues to exert its will on the business industry, companies will be forced to adapt and innovate. Why call a customer service agent when you can text or email?
According to a recent Forbes’ study, more than 50 percent of customers would prefer to text with an agent over other methods of communicating. That number will only increase in the coming years. Companies that don’t ensure that they are ready to meet the technological needs of its customers will rapidly lose them. It is that simple. That doesn’t mean that there won’t still be a need for face-to-face communications, but those interactions will continue to become less important to the success of a company as more consumers embrace the technology that is available to them.
Social Support Tools Become More Advanced
Business and marketing savvy companies understand the need to exist where their customers exist. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have given companies a quick and easy way to connect to customers. Those businesses that have embraced social media have begun to understand that the best way to know what customers are thinking is to interact with them – online. Customers are more likely to express dissatisfaction on a site like Facebook than they are to call a store directly. By addressing those concerns, a company not only quells an individual complaint, they also create a public persona as a company that cares.
Companies that are going to be successful in the future are those that understand where their customers are. A multi-media approach to marketing and customer service is going to be a must for any company that wants to successfully use technology to its advantage.
How-To Content Becomes a Must
The days of a customer pouring over a 25-page assembly and operation guide is over. How-to guides have also moved to the internet. Instead of a difficult set of instructions, consumers want YouTube videos that utilize eye/hand coordination in a visual environment, not a textual one. The average consumer is becoming more and more tech savvy every day. Even those that haven’t completely embraced the technological revolution understand what it means to Google something or search for a YouTube video. Companies that aren’t visible on these platforms will run the risk of losing customers to those companies that are.
Society’s attention span and tolerance levels have decreased dramatically over the past decade. We are now a society that expects instantaneous results. If you can’t provide them, your customers will go to someone that can.
There is No Such Thing as Closing Time
Today’s consumer expects service around the clock. “Hours of operation” are a thing of the past. Someone who needs assistance at 3:00am expects the same service as a customer at noon. After hours call centers or chat rooms are no longer a luxury of the elite companies. Even the smallest mom-and-pop shop is expected to adhere to the same set of expectations. Again, customers that don’t find the assistance they need when they need it will likely take their business elsewhere.
Online and Brick-and-Mortar Stores are Blending
Anyone who has been monitoring the changes in retail’s “Black Friday” sales have seen a consistent trend toward online sales. Even the most successful brick-and-mortar stores are working diligently to give their customers the same experiences online. Many consumers are interested in completing their shopping from the comfort of their lazy-boy. Those customers that offer the best online experience are likely to retain or even steal customers. Although there will always be a need for brick-and-mortar stores, companies are quickly finding that they cannot stay successful without an equally impressive online presence.
Technology has changed the playing field for everyone involved. Customers are no longer going to drive across town to lodge a complaint or pose a question. Many are not even going to use phone calls anymore. Customers now live largely online. As such, companies need to be prepared to offer the best online experience possible. The days of great customer service consisting of only a nice smile and friendly demeanor are over. Today’s customer wants quick and easy results. Companies that can’t offer that on a consistent basis are quickly going to find themselves at the bottom of the industry.