Customer Service Trends to Look Out for in 2020
Remember when call center agents used to “serve” customers by robotically reciting scripts over the phone? Not anymore. These days, customers expect to have an entirely different experience, one that is personalized just for them. They can reach out via numerous channels, and have actual conversations with agents. For 2020, customer service trends continue to point in one direction: even greater focus on total customer experience.
Companies across all industries now understand that customer experience is a brand differentiator — one that significantly impacts customer retention and revenue growth. Customer experience includes every touchpoint — online, in-store, and contact center interactions. To outperform competitors in 2020, companies will take advantage of customer service trends to sharpen their efforts to deliver a better customer experience.
Increased Urgency for Digital Transformation
Customers now expect companies to know who they are and deliver experiences that match their individual preferences. At the same time, customers are interacting with companies through more and more channels including websites, retail stores, social media, messaging, email, web chat, texting, and — oh, yes, voice calls. The challenge in 2020? To provide seamless, personalized experiences to customers across all of these touchpoints.
Contact centers that are still trying to piece together a hodge-podge of siloed legacy technologies and/or solutions from multiple vendors will pay a big price in 2020, alienating customers and agents alike. Customer serviced trends demand a focus on the channels that best match identified customer preferences. That requires the ability to collect data from all systems that support each touchpoint, and then centrally process and analyze that data.
Learning from Customer Data
Today’s customers want offers and experiences tailored to their individual preferences. In order to deliver that, contact centers will delve deeper into their customer behavior data for clues about each individual, using that data to choose which channel(s) they use to communicate with the customer as well as which specific products, promotions, or support are offered.
Contact centers will still use analytics to drive operations efficiency, too. Key call center metrics such as handle time, average speed of answer, and agent utilization rates, along with customer-focused KPIs such as first call resolution, customer satisfaction scores, and Net Promoter Score all tell part of the story. In effects, companies are using all this data to identify internal customer service trends.
Mobile-Friendly Is a Must
More than half of Americans now own a smartphone, and that phone is probably their primary communication tool, regardless of channel. Not having a mobile-optimized website and mobile-access customer service options will be a deal-killer in 2020.
Customer Service Goes Social
Customers are now using social media to contact companies, for service and support as well as to purchase products. This is great news for social-savvy contact centers, because interacting with customers via social media saves money compared to live contact. It can also significantly increase customer satisfaction. A third of social media users say they would rather make contact via social media than phone, and nearly two-thirds say they expect companies to provide social-based support.
Using Artificial Intelligence to Boost Engagement
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay, and it is getting smarter all the time. Customers are now comfortable interacting with chatbots, which can help companies gather valuable customer data as well as streamline customer service. In 2020, self-service AI will expand, as will its ability to learn from past customer experiences, thereby providing faster, ever-more personalized service in real-time.
Would You Rather Speak to an Agent?
Investment in automation and technology is crucial for improving the customer experience, now more than ever. To effectively personalize service, agents need tools that display historical information about the customer. Chatbots can support this by transferring contacts to a live agent as needed and delivering relevant messages to the agent’s screen as contacts arrive for seamless service. This hybrid AI-agent integration is a key trend to watch for in 2020.
Because live agents remain crucial for contact center success, one of the most important customer service trends continues to be human investment. Retention of quality agents more competitive than ever. In 2020, contact centers will offer timely, one-on-one feedback and ongoing agent training to develop and retain top talent. Because agents work on the front lines, engaging in interactions that determine customer experience, organizations will also solicit agent input about processes and customer feedback.
Recommendations Boost Sales
Studies show that 56% of online shoppers are more likely to return when a site offers product recommendations, and 45% prefer sites that offer personalized recommendations. Contact centers that take note of this will ensure live agents (and even AIs) have in-depth, up-to-date training that facilitates offering customer-tailored recommendations.
Security and Privacy
Customers have grown used to reading about massive data breaches, but they have also grown weary (and leery) of them. An otherwise exceptional customer experience is ruined once a customer learns that their personal and financial information has been exposed to hackers or shared with other companies without their consent. Contact centers, and all areas of the organization, must strengthen data protection if they hope to retain customer trust and loyalty. This will require increased security technology, procedures, and employee training.
Customer service trends for 2020 reflect the need to keep improving communication processes, technology, data analysis and usage, and security. But they all aim to boost overall customer experience. And as much as technology continues to expand its presence in contact center operations, companies are also doubling down on attracting and retaining high-quality labor.