Customer Service Trends
Top Trends To Follow In 2017
Who knew providing good customer service could go out of style? Well, it doesn’t, but every year trends emerge that follow consumer buying habits and expectations. Marketing research now tracks what a customer looks at online, for how long, what they actually buy and what they expect from their experience. The old customer service adage was customers were happy if they got a good price, service or availability. Today’s consumers want all three.
Here are 10 customer service trends to watch out for in 2017.
- Millennials are an essential consumer market. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the United States currently has 66 million Millennials and 69 million post-Millennials, or Generation Z. That’s a lot of buying power. The department classifies Millennials as those born between 1981 and 1998 and post-Millennials, or Generation Z are-e born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s. For these generations a seamless, omni-channel experience is extremely important. Generation Z has grown up during widespread Internet usage. They spend most of their time on their phones. To keep up with this group, Fonolo.com, a Canadian-based customer service company, suggests providing Millennials with a highly-personalized customer experience, allow these customers to engage and interact with your brand, focus on quality and availability rather than price and ensure your website or mobile app is designed for efficiency and speed.
- Use Facebook’s messaging app to communicate with customers. Facebook now has 1.79 billion monthly users and they expect businesses to communicate with them just as effectively as their friends. Also, according to Fortune.com, app fatigue is taking a toll on smartphone owners. They don’t want tons of apps taking up space. Users would rather use one they are already familiar with, like Facebook. A research firm, comScore, found most mobile users spend 85 percent of their time on just five apps. Communicate with customers with Facebook’s messaging apps for clear context that creates a permanent link.
- Chatbots are getting better. A chatbot is a service, sometimes powered by artificial intelligence, which allows a user to interact via a chat interface, according to ChatBotsMagazine.com. A chatbot can be functional, i.e. selling product or service, or fun. It works with major chat products like Facebook Messenger or text messages. According to Forbes.com, the best chatbots are able to not only respond to requests and questions but also recognize when a customer is confused and hand over the conversation to a live representative.
- Personalization creates a better customer experience. While knowing your customers is nothing new, there’s more technology than ever to help track customer data. Data companies can track a buyer’s likes, dislikes, buying patterns, etc. According to Forbes.com, this data gives trends and insights with uncanny accuracy, making it easier to cater to a customer’s needs.
- Service needs to be delivered quicker than before. No consumer wants to wait. Fifty-six percent of consumers say they expect better customer service than they did a year ago. Consumers want a quick response and quick resolution from companies. The faster the response, the more likely the customer is to be satisfied, according to Fonolo.
- Loyalty is tied to consumer expectations. If a business fails to respond to a customer, that customer is ready to move on to the competition. Fonolo stated a recent study of 500 companies showed 41 percent of companies did not respond to a customer service request; 90 percent of companies did not acknowledge an email had been received; and 99 percent of companies did not follow up with customers. Use a customer service software program to automatically respond to email requests and include an estimated time to resolve the issue. Follow up after the service is finalized to see if the customer was satisfied.
- Field service becomes the face of your company. When Forrester.com released its annual top 10 customer service trends of 2017, automated and self-service technologies made up the bulk of the list. But Forrester also included real-person interaction using field service technologies outside of traditional industries. This technology helps manage employees who work off-site and interact directly with the customer. It takes care of scheduling, tasks, time sheets, work orders, etc.
- Make things simple for the customer. Reduce the amount of effort for customers. Fonolo warned that a customer will walk away from transaction if the process is too difficult. This goes for customer service as well. Many companies offer a live chat feature to give customers a quick, one-on-one live response. This means the customer doesn’t have to wait for follow-up emails.
- IoT devices will shape customer experience. IoT (Internet of Things) devices are nonstandard computing devices that connect wirelessly to a network and can transmit data. This includes products and apps that make your home smarter. They can unlock your doors, set your thermostat, track your keys, etc. Fonolo stated this technology only looks to grow and 20.8 billion connected things will be in use by 2020. Understand their value now to stay ahead.
- The phone is being used less and less. Although Forbes.com stated the phone will probably never go away entirely, the alternative customer support channels, i.e. chatbots, social media customer care, AI technology, etc., should be a company’s first line of support. The more difficult problems requiring a live person are becoming more of the exception.