When it comes to customer service, people have high expectations from what companies offer them. Customers demand a personalized service, businesses need to be constantly available for them and offer them information quickly. People are present on multiple channels of communication and they want companies to be as well. Web chat has become very popular among customers in the past years. Its usage rose from 38% in 2009 to 65% in 2015.

The services they receive determine whether they will make a purchase from a particular company or if they choose to buy from a competitor. Research has shown that 60% of customers did not complete a purchase due to poor customer service. Their expectations change and companies need to understand and adapt to them. Falling behind can lead to unfulfilled needs, unpleasant experiences, loss of already existing customers, which can affect your business reputation.

It is important that you as a business stay updated with what is happening in the customer service field and adapt your techniques and strategies to these changes. Here are five customer service trends that you need to consider in 2017.

1. Work on your omnichannel customer service strategy

An omnichannel customer service strategy refers to delivering services to customers via texting, email, instant messaging and allowing them to switch between these several channels while still offering them the same quality of service. It consists of being present on multiple channels of communication and also working on being consistent. Customers need to have the same experience when they are communication with you through emails and via texting.

According to Aberdeen Group Inc., businesses that have strong omnichannel customer engagement strategies can retain approximately 89% of their customers. This translates in an increase in sales and an essential element in your business growth process.

Strong omnichannel strategies include the following elements:

  • Great mobile services
    This means that you need to make your websites, platforms and forums mobile-friendly and easily accessible. Think of the design, how it would look on different devices such as a smartphones and tablets and the load time as important factors.
  • Immediate social media responses
    Social media platforms have become a great channel where people ask support questions. For this reason, the response time is an important element for customers. 32% of them expect an answer within 30 minutes after they have asked a question and 57% expect the same response speed during nights and on weekends as during normal working hours.
  • Live chat has a great impact on sales
    When they want to make a purchase, customers may come across some new questions. Having a live chat can help them find the answers they need immediately. Also, they can receive help quickly if they have issues during the buying process.
  • Email is still very important
    Although new communication channels are appearing, email remains one of the most popular methods used in customer service. Studies have shown that 38% of customers would communicate online or via email when they have simple customer service issues.

2. Millennials are becoming an important customer category

Millennials are now America’s largest living generation and their numbers are growing in the entire world. Due to this fact, they are becoming an important customer category which businesses need to pay attention to. Companies need to understand the characteristics of these people in order to find the suitable way to approach them. Millennials are:

  • confident
  • team-oriented
  • tech-savvy
  • oriented towards a work-life balance
  • open to new experiences

Compared with other generations, Millennials have a different opinion on customer service. First of all, they would choose to work with companies that share the same values as they do. Secondly, during the customer service experience, they interact with companies closely. This shows that they pay attention to how a business treats them and look at the small details.

Adapting your customer service to Millennials’ needs is not a simple process, but it can bring great benefits to your business. Delivering high-quality services will translate in satisfied customers.

3. Self-service support is gaining more and more power

When customers have questions about a product or a service, they prefer to turn to self-service support. This means that they prefer to look for the information themselves instead of contacting a customer support representative, for example.

Self-service support is a great method for them as it is convenient and time-efficient. Also, when customers find the answers themselves, their self-esteem increases. The fact that they managed to solve a problem has a positive effect on how they see themselves, makes them feel independent, self-reliant and empowered.

4. IoT will facilitate proactive customer service

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles buildings, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

In other words, it represents the idea of having all our devices connected and sharing information with one another. According to Intel, by 2020, each person will have approximately 20 connected devices. This means that devices could become responsible for monitoring themselves from early stages. They could prevent possible malfunctions and even causes that could lead to their breakdown. In this case, we can start speaking about proactive customer service.

Proactive customer service is an approach in which companies make the first step in helping their customers. They do not wait to be contacted by them. They prefer to notice customers that there might be a problem with a product or a service and try to prevent it. The other approach in customer support is reactive customer service. In this case, customers are the ones who make the first move and contact businesses when they have an issue.

The proactive customer service approach would bring benefits to businesses as it could increase their customer retention rate.

5. AI will play a great role in customer support

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already playing an important role in the customer service field. Chatbots, for example, contribute to offering a great support service to customers. Their features allow businesses to have 24-hour-support service, to deliver answers in different foreign languages and to handle multiple conversations at the same time. Also, they can collect data about customers and analyze them in order to see if they can identify certain patterns. In this way, they can provide valuable insights about customers which companies can use.

AI represents a good investment for the future. Businesses can use bots in their support and sales departments, as they can perform repetitive tasks and valuable information about customers.

We are gladly inviting you to share with us your latest customer support experiences!

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