Are you keeping up with the trends and offering your customers have come to expect?
2017 saw a huge shift in the customer service world. The power now lies more or less entirely with the customer… they know what to expect, they know what they want and they won’t settle for anything less. And why should they? Here BARE International shares and article by Shep Hyken for Forbes on ‘Ten Customer Service And CX Predictions For 2018‘.
‘We are in the “Era of the Customer.” Companies recognize that customers are calling the shots. They are smarter and better informed, they recognize that they have more options, and they are critical about the customer experience they receive and expect it to be right the first time … and every time. And, if it isn’t right, they expect the company to take care of the problem in a way that not only makes them happy but also restores their confidence and faith in the company. Some companies will see this as a great burden, while others see it as an opportunity to meet and exceed customer expectations, thereby winning over new customers and creating loyalty with existing customers.
The following are 10 predictions that you can’t ignore. For the most part, these are trends that keep trending. There shouldn’t be any surprises that pop up in the middle of the year. Smart companies are anticipating these trends and reacting accordingly. Are you? Think about that question as you read:
- The customer continues to get smarter. Customers are learning what a great customer service experience looks and feels like, not just from your competitors, but from anyone they do business with. Knowing this should help you set a high standard for the level of service you deliver. Assume that customers won’t give you a second chance. One strike and you’re out. Customers know what good service is, and they expect the companies they do business with to deliver it.
Self-service customer support continues to rise in popularity. Customers expect the companies they do business with to provide support in a way that is easy and convenient. Numerous studies show that customers go to the company’s website first, not to look for a phone number to call, but for an answer to their problem or question. Video has become a powerful way to answer frequently asked questions. By the way, how-to type videos not only offer answers to questions but also showcase how to properly use a company’s products. This video-based support doubles as a marketing technique. Yes, customer service is the new marketing!
- AI continues as one of the hottest topics in the customer support world. Customers’ questions, at least lower-level questions, are now effectively being handled by computers. The capabilities are increasing at a level that reminds me of Moore’s Law, which says that the power of the microchip (the number of transistors on a chip) will double every year. This is what’s happening with AI. The capabilities and power behind AI are growing at a rapid pace. And, while AI had been cost-prohibitive for most companies, AI solutions are now being developed for smaller companies at an affordable price.
- AI will not replace humans – at least not in 2018. While companies are using AI to address customers’ basic questions and requests, like a change of address or checking on a bank balance, it has not gone to the level of replacing people for handling higher-level questions. Most companies are currently shifting the employees who spent hours answering those rudimentary questions to helping customers with more complex issues.
- AI will not only support the customer, but also the employee. While most people seem to focus on AI being used to communicate with the customer, some companies are using AI to support the agent. The “machine” listens to the conversation between the agent and the customer and instantly gives the agent the information needed to answer the customer’s questions. Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, says that when you reverse the letters AI, they become IA, which stands for Intelligent Assistant. That “assistant” supports the agent, not the customer.
- Amazon will move into brick-and-mortar retail. Brick-and-mortar retail will move online. We’ve already seen Amazon move into the retail brick-and-mortar grocery store business. That’s just the beginning. It recognizes the balance between the digital and traditional retail worlds. And, traditional retailers continue to find their way online. This is good for the consumer. Everyone will be more competitive than ever before as they figure out how to compete, stay alive, and even thrive in an ever-changing economy fueled by customer service and convenience.
- Personalization will help drive customer loyalty. Customers want an experience that is personalized. They want the company to know them well enough to make relevant suggestions, send the right marketing messages, and more. Treat each customer as an individual and you’ll earn their respect and their loyalty.
- Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will become more and more common. Technology is enhancing the user experience, making it easier and more exciting. Brands recognize the power of this type of engagement and interaction with their customers. Customers aren’t just looking at an advertisement or watching a video. They are engaged and immersed in it.
- The mobile phone is the best way to connect and interact (other than human-to-human) with your customers. Just about everybody has a mobile phone. When a customer grants you access to their phone, by sharing their number with you or installing your app, you are on your way to creating an interactive customer experience that can help you disrupt your competition.
And number 10? Click here for the full article to find out!
About BARE International.
BARE International was born from the need for mystery customer research at the national and global level. Today, we set the industry standard as the largest independent provider of customer experience research, data, and analytics for companies worldwide.
Whether you call them customers, guests, patients, patrons, riders, fans or clients, BARE International can create a program to measure their experience interacting with your brand.
Your business is unique and so are our solutions. We listen to you in order to provide custom research programs to address your most pressing challenges. Want to know more? Click here to request a quote and we will reach out to you to set up a time to find out more about your needs.