Whether your company handles its customer service internally, or outsources it to a provider, it’s important to stay on top of the trends in customer service that are shaping (and in some cases disrupting) the industry.
This will help you make better business decisions, especially if one of the decisions you’re facing is deciding whether to keep your customer service function internal to your company, or have it outsourced to a qualified call center services provider.
Here are 4 trends in customer service to watch for in 2018:
1.) Customer Service as a Primary Focus
Most of you are aware of the 4 P’s in marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. But in recent years, many arguments have been made there’s a 5th P that companies often ignore to their own peril. Some call it ‘personalization’, while others refer to it as simply ‘people’.
Regardless of which term you choose, it all boils down to the customer experience, where a huge chunk of that is realized through your company’s customer service. This is one trend companies cannot afford to underestimate. As a matter of fact, one study concluded that by the year 2020, customer experience will outstrip price and product as the most critical element of a brand.
Are your company’s customer service representatives on the frontlines of this new battle ready for the challenge? Don’t forget that although much of this can be automated, most customers still want to be able to communicate with a live human being.
2.) Evolving Communication Channels & Technologies
For better or for worse, there’s a variety of ways customer can communicate with companies these days. From email, to live chat, to an ever-growing number of social media platforms, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with all these different channels of communication.
Scaling up personnel and training is a real challenge, which is leading more and more companies to turn to outsourcing their customer service to providers who are better-equipped to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of customer communication.
3.) Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots
Whether you call it artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning, these technologies are at the forefront of automatically personalizing the customer experience beyond anything possible in the recent past. Examples of companies that have successfully embraced tech-driven highly personalized customer experience include the highly popular music service — Spotify, and cosmetics retailer — Sephora.
On the customer service end of things, chatbots seem poised to overtake many of the functions of traditional call centers, though plenty of experts agree that the more likely scenario is a complementary blend of chatbots and live humans, especially when tech-driven approaches aren’t quite fully optimized to engage customers with precision and effectiveness.
4.) Data-Driven Decision-Making
The reason why AI and chatbots are even possible to begin with is because of the enhanced ability of technologies to engage in real-time Big Data analysis and natural language processing (NLP).
While these technologies aren’t yet entirely seamless, they’re improving by leaps and bounds each and every year. Even audio chatbots are now on the horizon. In this environment, an increasing number of companies are looking to phase out email as a major customer interaction channel. For some, it’s too slow compared to live interactions with humans and chatbots.
To Sum Up
When you look at these four trends in customer service driving change in 2018, how do your company’s efforts stack up?
If your internal customer service function has no hope of leveraging these customer service trends into better results for you company due to a lack of expertise or resources, it may well be time to consider outsourcing to a provider that is qualified to meet these challenges.