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Guest Blog: Customer Service Trends for 2018

This week we feature an article by Rohit Prasanna who shares a great list of 10 customer service trends that will affect the customer experience this year. – Shep Hyken

The customer-centric economy has taken the front-seat across the globe, and it is no different for B2B businesses. When customers call the shots, having a good CX and offering fantastic customer service will benefit your business all around.

In the buying cycle, customers are more informed, they have become smarter and understand/consider the umpteen options to choose from, before making a decision. In the service niche, customers have come to expect real-time resolutions to their problems. In this background, a B2B business not only needs to take on a different and informed kind of marketing strategy but is also required to take care of service issues in a way that customer loyalty stays intact and is in the driver’s seat.

In this article, let us discuss a few upcoming trends of 2018 that will affect the customer service as well as CX for business and look at some resolutions that you may have to undertake.

  1. Brick-and-mortar moves online and vice-versa: Traditional and digital retail is joining hands and lines are getting thinner by the day. Business are recognizing the importance of creating a balance between the two sales funnels. Amazon is a fantastic example of digital retail moving to the traditional space while many brick-and-mortar businesses are moving online. The consumer is the most benefited in this scenario since it will result in more competitiveness and the focus for survival will be on customer-service, CX, and convenience.
  2. New CX Strategy: Believe it or not, CX and customer-service, both will be impacted by the convenience factor. The faster a customer complaint is resolved, the better loyalty you will gain. Additionally, the best CX or ease of usability will become the most critical factor for the consumer. Both these will drive businesses in the competitive economy. One of the best examples of convenience is UBER that changed the way a common man travels.
  3. Customer Loyalty: Customer loyalty will be the key to survival in the new customer-centric world. Apart from convenience, the one factor that will define and underline customer loyalty is personalization. Today’s customer expects a business to understand him or her fully and suggest or recommend service/product options. Sending the right marketing messages and treating customers as a unique individual will drive your business. Everyone, including you and me, love the personalization.
  4. Customer Service as a self-support tool: A smart customer looks at convenient and easy ways to learn and troubleshoot. A customer visits your website to find an answer first and not to look at the toll-free number to call. If he has gotten there, your website is not doing much in keeping him informed. Keeping that in mind, and the power of video, interactive support in the form of how-to videos have become very popular in recent times. To kill two birds with a single bullet, you can opt to create such videos, not only as support tools but also to drive your marketing and brand equity to decimate the competition.
  5. Evolution of the customer: The customer is always evolving, and the only logical way to go ahead and grow your business is to grow with him. In the last three decades, the customer mindset has changed drastically concerning knowledge, maturity, research and many other parameters. Additionally, a customer will not give you a second chance since the competition has also grown manifold. Customers understand what good service is, and you will need to meet the expectations.
  6. Communication: Today, unarguably, a mobile phone is the best means to communicate with a customer. Be it through a voice call, SMS, Whatsapp, your app or push notifications, and a customer has given you explicit consent to communicate by leaving his number with you. Using these channels, the best way to disrupt your competition becomes easier.
  7. Technology and reality: With technology advancing leaps and bounds, virtual reality and augmented reality is catching up, and you need to be ready to leverage it as a service tool. Customer Service can be greatly enhanced by offering a better customer experience (CX) which makes it more exciting and easy. If you are gunning for branding, using this kind of technology can be a major step to accelerate the process. In stark contrast with video, engagement is 100% with virtual or augmented reality, and it is time to think and invest in it.
  8. AI [Artificial Intelligence]: The hottest topic in the customer service world today, AI is about handling rudimentary and regular questions at the computer/machine level. With AI capabilities increasing year on year, this technology could enhance the quality of customer service while greatly reducing the man-hours. AI is cost-prohibitive for smaller businesses. However, lower-end solutions are cutting into the market presently. You can have a look at them and think about leveraging them to enhance your service.
  9. The human factor: It is a myth that AI will replace humans. This is not going to happen, at least in 2018. AI may answer basic questions and save some man-hours, but a human brain is far more capable and put to better use answering complex questions and in suggesting innovative answers. So, AI will only help humans perform better by improving their efficiency and saving time.
  10. A WIN-WIN: AI is a two-pronged efficiency booster. On the one hand, it helps answer questions for the customer, and on the other hand, it helps the agent discover answers to the questions faster. It is AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IA (Intelligent Assistant), both.

In this backdrop of top 10 customer service trends for 2018, are you, as a business offering the best of customer service to your customers? Are you using the available technologies to better the CX and service verticals, or at least planning to do so? If yes, you are on the path to glory; if not, you will need to give it a serious rethink.

Rohit Prasanna brings about 14 years of digital marketing experience and has been an advisor to software start-ups in the mobile and SaaS areas. Before getting into startups, Rohit worked in various marketing, and product management roles at Unisys, Dell, and IBM.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Articles: Would You Do That To Your Mother?

 

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