Customer Service, 2015: What Lies Ahead

Customer No 1

Do you know what year this is? It is the year Marty McFly visited from his present (i,e, 1985) in the second part of Back to the Future; to a future full of hover boards and Google Glass-like gadgets! Hover boards may not be here yet but here are some predictions for the year that just might!

Time

[pullquote]This is going to be the year of Live Chat and of customer support that is on all day / every day / 24 x 7 x 365.[/pullquote]One of the biggest trends of the coming year is that waiting has becoming passé and so, instant is in. Remember the time when a customer sent in a complaint / email about an issue that needs to be sorted and sat around, waiting for someone to get back to them? Well, that will be a (not so) fond memory from now on.

First response times need to measure in minutes, or preferably, in seconds, rather than hours. No one likes to hang around, waiting and the product with the quicker service will prove to be the winner. Yes, this is going to be the year of Live Chat and of customer support that is on all day / every day / 24 x 7 x 365.

Customer Service expert Roy Atkinson says that, “Customers will expect rapid response to questions or issues on social media, and, if your business is global, will expect those rapid responses within a time-frame that is good for them. This does create some problems for small to medium businesses which are not equipped to have a social customer service staff available 24/7.”

“Staff available 24/7” is the key phrase – no one wants to go on to LiveChat and see this, especially after having waited for aeons.

Connection

#customerservicefail is one of the popular hashtags on Twitter, with many disgruntled customers venting their angst about shoddy customer service on the popular social media platform. Complaints on Twitter, predictably, follow a pattern: client complains, it gets favourited and re-tweeted and a customer support agent posts a “please DM (direct message) me your number so we can discuss it” but the client vents more….. and so on and so forth.

Twitter is already being used as a popular channel for customers to share their opinions and this is only going to spread. Social media will play a huge role in the customer relationship and the brands that recognise this will get ahead of the curve.  Not only that, this will be the year multi-channel support will start becoming bigger. Offering myriad ways for your client to get in touch with you so that you can sort his issues right away is the way forward.

Did you hear about the Virgin Train passenger that found the train’s facilities a bit lacking, tweeted it there and then and got the best customer service ever? Ticks all the boxes, that one!

Predictive and proactive

[pullquote]Predictive Analysis will become the name of the game – crystal balls not required![/pullquote]Support agents used to be like fire fighters – hurrying over with their expertise, trying to put out the flames of whatever disaster’s brewing before it gets out of hand. And, like all good firefighters, get hailed a hero upon successful completion of task.

Not any more. Support agents of 2015 need to be more like superheroes – to be at hand before things go pear-shaped. This might seem like a plot of a movie but unfortunately, that is what is going to separate the wheat from the chaff. Can you anticipate the errors? Can you be ready to reach before a system fails? Are you ready with the tools necessary to fix a bug before it crashes a system?

This doesn’t need crystal balls but a bit of predictive analysis – a phrase that is big in the world of data mining and Big Data. You have the details about your system and your customer at hand – now, you need to put it all together, create a Big Picture and accurately forecast a mishap before it occurs. It could be something as simple as putting two and two together, preempting your client about renewal before their product expires or something in the blow-your-mind (and somewhat creepy?) range, like knowing a client is pregnant before her family does!

In today’s world, where our digital footprint is becoming bigger and bigger, shaping our virtual worlds as we navigate them on a daily basis, your customer service too needs to jump a few rungs ahead in order for you to remain in the game.

More automation, more intrusion and  more data – all scary futuristic concepts but one undeniable thing is that, 1995, 2015 or 2900 – the customer is still the king!

 

Lavanya Donthamshetty

Writer. Apple-lover. Follower of big brands. Interested in talking about all things customer support. Follow me on Twitter @lavanyad