Each year, achieving superior customer care becomes a bit more challenging for businesses. With new technologies and customer contact points continuously at play, customer service representatives and the managers that oversee them are finding new challenges that impact their ability to serve current and prospective customers.
As customer expectations continue to evolve and change, so must customer service capabilities. Customer experience has a significant impact on business results, so if you haven’t already assessed trends that have the potential to impact your strategy, then now is the time.
Here are the top 4 customer service trends for 2019:
1. Real-time assistance becomes more important
Since the proliferation of mobile technologies, today’s consumers have come to expect quick responses to all of their questions right at their fingertips. The same holds true in regard to their customer service queries. Hubspot reports that today’s consumers expect companies to respond to a live chat inquiry in under 48 seconds. Social media interactions offer a bit more leniency (up to 6 hours on Facebook), but overall, consumers want fast-acting and helpful customer support services.
A real-time response on live chat or social media platforms can make all the difference when converting visitors into customers. Offering a response in a short time frame may be just the tipping point to convince them to make a purchase, whereas a response 8 hours later is more likely to be ignored. Real-time support services also boost customer engagement and satisfaction, which help to sustain customer loyalty over time.
2. More customers use social media direct messaging
More consumers are connecting with companies through direct messaging (DM’s) than through public methods like tagging in a Tweet. According to Sprinklr, 80% of consumers engage with brands online, and 54% of customers prefer social messaging channels instead of phone or email.
That said, a greater amount of businesses are enabling DM features on social profiles, which benefit both the business and the consumer when it comes to customer service functions. From the consumer standpoint, DM’s allow for longer messages and don’t limit text to 140 characters, allowing them to better explain their circumstance without publishing to the public.
For brands, using DM’s can allow them to communicate with customers privately, which can help to sustain their reputation should the customer’s concern be negative in nature.
3. A greater amount of customer service reps works from home
Remote work and telecommuting are becoming more and more popular for professionals in many different industries, but this form of work is also becoming common for customer service representatives. A major benefit of customer service jobs is that they can be performed virtually, from a number of different locations.
Real estate in large cities, like New York or San Francisco for example, is constantly becoming a greater cost for today’s businesses. Should your company be looking to expand your workforce, especially when it comes to customer service-type roles, consider listing them as remote positions.
Not only does this allow you to expand your talent pool, but it also attracts the growing number of professionals looking to transition to remote work. Not to mention, it saves expenses that typically would be allocated towards rent, office furnishings, and other amenities.
4. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will fuel valuable interactions
Over the past few years, AI has certainly become an essential part of customer interactions. Chatbots, virtual assistants, speech recognition technologies, and predictive analytics are gaining popularity as customer service resources.
In the coming months, this trend is expected to continue. Machine learning is a subset of AI that allows computers to find hidden insights without being clearly programmed where to look.
The iterative aspect of machine learning is important because as models are exposed to new data, they are able to learn from previous computations to produce reliable, repeatable decisions and results. From a customer service perspective, this means that machine learning can be used to provide insight into a customer’s previous interactions with the business.
Based on the above trends, it’s vital for businesses to continue to leverage technology in order to improve their overall customer experience. Make sure you follow these trends to stay ahead of the competition!
Marie Johnson is a contributor to Enlightened Digital, UX Designer and technology writer from New York City. If she’s not writing her latest blog post in her kitchen, you’ll likely find her strolling through Central Park, cappuccino in hand.