You may have been running a successful organisation, living within the bubble that everything your company does is purely customer-centric and that your business landscape has been built on the basis of giving the best experience to your customer.
Here’s your wake-up call. You have fallen behind. Customer service trends are changing rapidly and unless you catch up, you may see the unfortunate activity of customers moving to competitors even if their product is not as good as yours.
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Here’s a quick look at what you need to be good at if you want your customers to remember you for your exceptional customer service.
1. Voice still reigns but barely
The channels of communication have begun to change considerably. eDigital’s survey in 2013 shows how customers are using the various channels for customer service communications.
This shows how phone and email are still the most preferred methods of communication. But this only explains the adoption rate for the various channels. The channels that provide the right customer satisfaction are completely different.
Live-chat seems to be the medium of communication that customers feel is giving them the most amount of satisfaction. Live chat is convenient as it is provides immediate access to help. As this Forrester research concludes, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.
[pullquote] “44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.” [/pullquote]
Customers feel comfortable knowing that they are talking to a real person who can assist them right away. Another key takeaway is that if immediate help is not provided, there is a sizeable chance that the customer might abandon his purchase for a later date or indefinitely.
This draws us to our second important trend in customer service.
2. Customers want instant gratification
“It’s only been a short time that consumers have truly been able to take advantage of live chat, and to see that it is almost equal in preference to the telephone is exciting and transformative.” – Lauren Freedman, President – E-tailing group
The reason why customers seem to prefer live-chat is explained by the technological term ‘Anticipatory Technological Behavior and Aggregated Information’.
This means that customers are not willing to wait for people to respond by email with answers or sit with their phone on hold until a support agent gathers the necessary solution for their issue. They want issues to their issues instantly and efficiently.
Here is a graph that shows wait times and satisfaction based on various channels, done as a part of an Effectiveness report by Boldchat
The above report stands testimony to the fact that people want answers and their satisfaction levels have a lot to do with their waiting times.
3. Social Media – Be there or be square
This hardly requires elaboration. It is universal truth that if your customer service is not social media savvy, your business is going to strike a chord only with 80 year olds.
71% of consumers who receive positive customer service through social media will recommend the brand.
From times when there were companies challenging one another to see who will participate, it is now about how much each one is participating in social media. Customers have come to an extent where they expect proactive outbound communication via social media.
4. Knowledge Management is key
Self-sufficiency is the buzzword today. Customers are beyond day long email waiting times, even ten minute call waiting times. Customer service is decentralizing into being a customer’s service itself.
With sound knowledge base and forums, cross-customer interactions are enabling customers to help one another in finding resolutions or allowing themselves to use interactive knowledge base systems to find answers to their own queries.
The Twelpforce phenomenon
With the help of Twelpforce, BestBuy changed the way customers looked at support. By responding to over 28000 queries and enabling 2600 employees to respond, they made Twelpforce a customer-satisfying, employee-motivating, PR-generating machine.
They combined knowledge management, their customers, their employees as well as social media to bring about the most powerful method of customer service.
5. Customer Support is no longer a cost centre but a game changer
Customer service is required round the clock, all over the place and with increasing immediateness, due to which support centres are built around every channel, available on all mobile devices and are made extremely easily accessible.
With the number of channels increasing and a single poor customer service move making ripples across the world, companies no longer treat support as a cost centre, but as a critical differentiator to their business process.
The goal is to build a successful customer service enterprise while also managing operational efficiencies in such a way that you move beyond poor profitability margins and convert support into an effective sales opportunity.
Go ahead and let us know if you have some key customer service trends that have to be included here and we will be more than happy to accommodate them. Happy Customer Service!