2020 changed the way businesses operate overnight, and customer service is no exception. In order to keep up your support in these challenging times, you need to rethink your customer service strategy and capture the latest trends that will work for your business.
We have compiled a list of 9 customer service trends and predictions on where customer support is headed in 2021 and beyond. From AI-powered solutions to real-time support, let’s look at the key elements of exceptional customer service:
Customer Service Trends to Watch for in 2021
- Leveraging AI-powered Customer Service Solutions
- Unifying Communications with Omnichannel Support
- Personalized Customer Support to Improve Customer Retention
- Use of Business Intelligence, Dashboards, and Reporting
- Automation of Customer Service Processes
- Promoting Self-service with an Up-to-date Knowledge Base
- Adopting Real-time Support across Time Zones
- Building a Strong Social Media Presence
- Moving from Crisis Management to Proactive Customer Service
1. Leveraging AI-powered Customer Service Solutions
Artificial intelligence plays a huge role in technology-driven customer support. Every industry is tapping into AI-powered solutions like chatbots, live chat, and CRM integrations to reduce manual effort and time. Faster responses, 24*7 availability, and expertise through adaptive decision making can give you the competitive edge unachievable solely by traditional methods.
AI customer support solutions for various industries show significant improvements in customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. According to a recent survey by Sitel Group, 64% of customers prefer chatbots to phone calls — which could save around 2.5 billion hours of human-led customer support by the end of 2023. In the age of personalized chatbots and real-time messaging apps, systems with sole reliance on call center agents will easily fall behind. The benefits of AI-powered customer support extend beyond autonomous chatbots and round the clock assistance. Apart from the initial installation costs, chatbots have strikingly low maintenance due to the ability to expand their knowledge base with every new customer interaction.
2. Unifying Communications with Omnichannel Support
Omnichannel Support involves integrating customer interaction across all channels to provide holistic, seamless support. Customer service teams should not have trouble accessing data collected across various platforms at various times.
Does your system properly streamline the communication when your customer moves between devices while accessing customer support? Omnichannel Support helps your business by unifying communications at a single interface, thereby improving the speed of resolution and flexibility. It is important to note that having an omnichannel presence is not to be everywhere but to be able to provide unified support from channel to channel, from digital channels to human agents, from start to finish.
3. Personalized Customer Support to Improve Customer Retention
A great experience makes your customers happy whereas a personalized experience makes them remember you. Personalization involves catering to the unique needs of every customer rather than providing template solutions to all.
Especially with the use of chatbots in customer support on the rise, it is easy to forget the power of personal communication. Although your customers know they are not talking to a human agent, chatbots can add a personal touch. From addressing your customers by their name to adding context from your previous conversations, you can do a lot to improve customer engagement. At this age, all the information you need about your customers is just a click away. A solid business intelligence tool will help you analyze customer intent and provide exclusively curated solutions to their problems. Customer loyalty begins with making your customers feel valued.
4. Use of Business Intelligence, Dashboards, and Reporting
Although not new, industries have developed a fresh interest in Business Intelligence due to the huge amount of data present today. Business Intelligence tools help drive data-driven decisions based on the information relevant to your business.
You now have enough tools to track how customers interact with your product. But data collected across different platforms does not add any value by itself unless processed. With the use of Business Intelligence and Reporting software, you can transform the data collected into actionable business goals, maintain dashboards to visualize customer journey, and uncover exclusive insights for your business. Business Intelligence is crucial, even more so when your business grows, as now you have a huge customer base with more unique use cases.
5. Automation of Customer Service Processes
Repetitive customer service processes are a hindrance to productivity. Workflows focus on implementing efficient business processes using automation and rule-based algorithms.
If you are an early-stage organization, you know how hard it is to move beyond multi-step procedural tasks, let alone focus on improving your customer service. Recurring tasks such as assigning queries and updating ticket statuses can consume a huge part of your day, impacting productivity across the customer service team. This is nudging products towards adopting Workflow Automation software on a large scale. It helps you automate day-to-day tasks, reduce human errors, and save time on tasks that do not need manual touch.
6. Promoting Self-service with an Up-to-date Knowledge Base
Most customers want to solve issues on their own without calling the support teams. To install a workflow, they don’t want to call an agent and wait on it. They want installation guides. They want webinars on troubleshooting. Maintaining an updated knowledge base educates your customers about your products, keeps them informed about your new releases, and promotes self-service. Creating a knowledge base is a continuous process that involves identifying common pain points and expectations over time. Once set up, however, it helps you enrich customer experience through decreased dependency.
Think of content management as a smart database capable of handling faqs autonomously, thereby leveraging the human resource only for rare use cases. Companies believe that around 60 – 80% of calls can be addressed quickly and without human intervention, with a solid knowledge resource to deflect them to. Use machine learning and NLP to empower your knowledge base to address customer queries as closely as possible. This will balance the sheer workload of customer service agents, thus freeing their time for more complex issues.
7. Adopting Real-time Support across Time Zones
Real-time support and customer satisfaction go hand in hand. Who does not like instant gratification? Especially customers looking for help? Real-time support means providing the help needed at the time it is needed.
The present situation is a great example of how instant responses can be a deal-breaker for customer experience. When COVID-19 happened, customer service teams especially in e-commerce struggled to handle the sudden spike in support volume. Real-time support became the key to boost customer success. Irrespective of your company size or budget, technologies today make it possible to be available for your customers 24/7. A 2020 survey says 88% of customers expect the first response within 60 minutes while the rest want it under 15 minutes. Faster response times contribute 75% to customer satisfaction, preceding clarity of solutions, and easy information access. Don’t worry about falling behind, watch how HappyFox Chatbots and Live Chat software can help you improve real-time customer experience.
8. Building a Strong Social Media Presence
Engaging with customers on social media is no longer a fad. Due to the unconventional and collaborative nature of social media support, customers are increasingly moving to social media to raise their issues. This can include social networks other than Facebook and Twitter as well.
According to a Gartner report, not replying to your customers on social media platforms can lead to a 15% increase in churn rate. Even if the solution sounds as simple as replying to your customers on social networks diligently, it is more complex than that.
- You need to integrate customer queries gathered across your internal communication channels and social networks.
- You need to know when and where these queries are raised to respond immediately.
This is where solutions like omnichannel support and social listening come to your rescue. HappyFox Help Desk helps you integrate social media channels in a few clicks, thus making it easy to centralize customer data for instant access.
9. Moving from Crisis Management to Proactive Customer Service
Proactive customer service is more than a mere trend. For customers, it is all about good customer experience or poor customer experience. There is no in between. An US-based survey revealed that customers tell 15 people about a poor service experience, as opposed to a good experience, which they tell 11 people. Crisis management does not sound like a good idea when the damage is already done. But how are the already time-strapped agents supposed to provide proactive customer service? With anticipatory self service and action on customer feedback.
Customer feedback has been around since ages. But its true potential lies in what you do with it. With effective customer feedback management, you can proactively identify customer pain points, and take necessary mitigative actions before they translate into bad experience for customers. Next comes self-service. What you view as a service request, customers view as another roadblock to use your product. Having to pick up the phone and wait on line every time they forget a password or need to download an invoice can be draining. When you find the frequent problems your customers encounter, you can proactively help them with the right solutions. You can achieve this by installing a self-service knowledge base on your website, which is basically a reservoir of information about your products, services, and offerings. This will ensure your customers a friction-free user experience.
Customer satisfaction is a proven differentiator in a competitive marketplace. In the era of empowered customers, being cognizant of the evolving customer needs is the key to customer satisfaction. Sign up for a demo to learn how to successfully leverage these customer service trends for delivering an exceptional customer experience in 2021 and beyond!