We owe a lot of the comforts we take for granted to the First Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. Developments in coal, the steam engine, electricity, and petroleum took off quickly.
All of these products had customers. Customers who had to walk to factories or write letters when they had complaints.
But what if the complaint wasn’t immediately resolved? What if the customer forgot a document they needed? A long walk would have been for nothing.
And the letters? Customers had to deliver them without certainty of getting a quick reply. This customer support process was largely inefficient with no foreseeable solution because technology was still in its infancy.
Fast forward to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and we see that customer service has made giant strides. We’ve evolved from writing letters to automated and digital ways of handling customer inquiries, all thanks to progress in artificial intelligence (AI), video chat, message bots, virtual receptionist services, and many more.
But advancements in customer service technology usually come with a learning curve and incur costs. Nevertheless, they are usually worth it.
- They improve the effectiveness of customer service professionals
- They allow for better customer service delivery
- They help customer service teams to retain clients, thereby increasing revenue.
There’s no question that customer service technology will continue to grow and make support teams more efficient. And in this post, we’ll explore five predictions on what we believe customer service will look like in the future.
5 Predictions on the Future of Customer Service
1. Omnichannel customer service will become a norm
These days, customers don’t rely on one single method to engage with brands. In fact, 67% use at least three different channels. While some of your customers are on social media checking out your services, others could be on review websites trying to decide if your services are right for them.
And these customers don’t want switches between channels to feel jarring. They want a seamless experience as they interact with your brand.
It’s no surprise, then, that a report by Adobe shows that companies providing strong omnichannel customer experiences enjoy 10% year-on-year growth and a 25% increase in close rates.
But why is omnichannel customer support so effective?
Omnichannel customer service allows your business to eliminate communications silos that can harm the integrity of your brand. For instance, a customer could discuss a challenge through your website today. If they aren’t satisfied, they could communicate again, maybe via social media. Instead of making the customer repeat all they said during their web chat, an omnichannel experience helps you pull the previous customer interaction from your website, social channels, email, and more into a single view. In other words, you start conversing from where customers left off, which makes their experience smoother.
2. AI and bots will assist customer service reps, not replace them
Recent developments in machine learning-based NLP mean that AI can now understand sentiments in open texts. For instance, negative customer feedback on a review website can be turned into a support ticket automatically with AI. By responding swiftly, customer service agents could turn negative feedback into positive experiences.
And bots? They function when humans can’t, like while the customer service team is asleep or unavoidably unavailable. They also improve self-service for customers and reduce expenses for business owners. How? By providing a repeatable and inexpensive method of addressing similar customer requests.
Advancements in AI and bots will continue. But this hasn’t come without fears among customer service professionals worried that their job will become obsolete. “Will customer service roles no longer be useful?” Of course not. They will remain useful as ever, adapt to technological changes, take on customer success roles, and help clients succeed with the product or service they sell.
3. Social media will become a standard customer service channel
Do you know that 54% of people had a more favourable view of brands that responded to customer service questions or complaints on social media? That’s huge. And since many people like getting responses on social media, customer service professionals will continue to adapt to meet this need.
Going forward, businesses won’t rely on social media just for ads. Active social listening will take center stage, and rapid responses to customer inquiries and challenges will become the new viral ads.
The results of such publicity? Happy customers start talking, other customers start liking and commenting, and the brand gets free visibility to new prospects who spend 144 minutes daily on social media and messaging apps. Customers now live on social media, so meeting them where they spend more than two hours of their day will be the norm in the future.
4. Customer service will become increasingly personalized
Customers give a lot of their personal information to businesses. In return, they expect businesses to use their information to provide them with personalized experiences. Research by Epsilon proves this is true as 80% of customers want personalized services.
Personalized service is a trend that will continue long into the future, especially as customer support tools become smarter. Advancements in these support tools will allow customer service reps to access a customer’s recent interactions and provide a personal touch when interacting with them. Personalization is markedly different during online and offline interactions.
Online, support teams can personalize a customer’s experience by using the browsing history of customers to know and display their preferences. Offline, this could be a customer support rep who uses live voice messages to communicate with clients instead of automated messages that are impersonal. An example would be a wake-up call in hotels.
Providing personalized services seems like a good idea. But how does it impact your bottom line?
According to Econsultancy, 80% of companies report seeing an uplift since implementing personalization. Also, companies using advanced personalization report a $20 return for every $1 spent.
5. Customer support specialists will be in high demand
As technological advancements continue, customer support reps will start carving niches for themselves. New roles will emerge, and reps with specialized skills and knowledge will provide better support. For instance, customer support reps that are excellent in handling social media inquiries could become social media support specialists. Those who know how to take customers through a sign-up process could become onboarding specialists.
How about those who are great with answering calls and scheduling appointments? They have their place as well. At Smiledog, we have many of these niched customer service team members who prioritize excellent customer experience above everything.
Ready for the Future of Customer Service?
The future of customer service is bright, especially for business owners who want to use technology to drive customer retention and revenue. Technological advancement and specialized customer service teams provide greater efficiency. This allows business owners to worry less about daily administrative tasks and gives them more time to focus on their customers.
Smiledog is a team of professionally-trained receptionists who are dedicated to providing your clients with a positive customer experience — even when you can’t be reached. We handle answering your phone and scheduling your appointments so you can focus on maximizing reach with marketing, provide quality service to your clients, and ultimately grow your business.
Connect with a Smiledog representative to learn more.