Where is Customer Service Headed

Where is Customer Service Headed?

It’s not enough just to offer a spectacular product or service, luring your consumers in with a top notch marketing campaign. It’s not enough just to get them in the door, with one purchase.

Your business should thrive on return customers and word of mouth. And that means your initiative should be to serve the customer better.

Technology is really changing everything around us, from how we learn, work, communicate, and ultimately live. Customer service used to mean keeping a smile on your face, always being polite and helpful and dealing with the occasional irate customer. Nowadays, there’s a whole lot more to it than that, but the same basic principle still exists with the same very important goal: customers satisfaction.

There’s just a whole lot more to keep up with now. Not only are there face-to-face connections and telephone calls, consumers utilize email, social media, text messaging, video calls, and live chat. With so many open channels through which people can contact your business – and talk about it – it can often be difficult to keep up, If you’re not willing to adapt to this shift and respond accordingly, you’ll be trampled. Consumers are now incredibly connected with 24/7 access to public forums where they can either talk you up, or beat you down.

People no longer want to stand in a long line, wait on hold for extended periods of time, or deal with rude employees.

In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to design service experiences that are customer-centric, knowing that every customer is different. It’s not enough just to offer a customer service telephone number. Some people prefer to email, some prefer online chat, others would like to call. Kimberly Johnson, Senior Vice President of Operations Business Development at TeleTech, recommends “letting the customer drive the channel where you’re not forcing customers to meet you where you’re at, but to meet them where they’re at.” That means offering a variety of support options, and letting them choose what they’re most comfortable with.

There’s real opportunity here

Customer expectations continue to place increased pressure on companies to provide consistent service experiences across the various touchpoints customers use, even in the face of more and more AI applications. By delivering a better customer experience across different channels, you’re creating the opportunity to have connected conversations with customers.

So what sort of shift are we seeing?

Channeling It All

It doesn’t matter if you’re comfortable with certain channels over others. “When a customer reaches out to you on Twitter, the problem needs to be solved on Twitter,” stresses Amir Zonozi, Chief Strategy Officer of the social influencer engagement platform Zoomph.  “When they reach out to you via email, it needs to be solved via email. Asking your customers to switch their preferred method of communication is taking your customer out of their comfort zone and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.”

Empowered customers have high expectations about when and how they communicate with brands. They have busy lives, too, and have a desire and need to communicate when it’s convenient for them, not just during your business hours.

That all means that you have to branch out, utilizing multiple channels of engagement, giving your consumers effective options. And those options must be monitored, responding in a timely manner. Social media shouldn’t be something to be feared. Use it to quickly respond to clients. Doing so publically demonstrates your outstanding service, and shows you have a real ability to solve problems, caring individually for your customer.

Shifting the Focus

So many brands have been historically focused on “me,” self-absorbedly blasting ads that talked about how awesome they were, how great their products were, and how much they rocked. On the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty out there that appear to not care at all, with a ho-hum attitude and lack of response to customer records.

But there’s a shift taking place. The customer experience isn’t all about the brand. It’s about the customer. Instead of me-me-me-me-me, companies are focusing on the consumer. Instead of  “You’re with us, isn’t that awesome?!”, brands are moving towards “You’re here, and your problem is solvable. Let us help you.”

Combining Technology and Human Experience

Customers don’t have the time or patience to wait a week after they open a service ticket for results. They need answers to their questions and support now. While it’s widely recognized that it requires artificial intelligence to assist in handling the sheer volume of calls, the fact that many customers still have troubles that are too complicated for bots to attend to still exists.

The utilization of bots is being streamlined so as to provide a more seamless, less frustrating experience for consumers. Increasingly, bots are becoming better able to quickly route calls, understand the caller, respond to and act upon the customer’s need, and make it easy for a customer to reach a real person if necessary.