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From the rise of chatbots to AI and voice, here are the top 5 trends driving change in customer service that we’ve identified in USU’s latest study.
With decades of experience providing customer service solutions, we’ve seen everything about service change. Customers continue to interact with brands on new channels, faster and with rising expectations. As last year came to an end, we conducted a study on digital customer service to determine the most important trends for 2019.
Here are the top 5 trends transforming the way companies do customer service
Support via Chatbot
Chatbots remain a key force multiplier for service agents. Although not yet as widespread as predicted last year, they are here to stay. Chatbots can handle routine customer interaction and questions, freeing up human agents for more complex issues. This will reduce ticket volume and according to a report by CNBC, chatbots could cut business costs by $8 billion by 2022.
The latest generation of chatbots learn from customers and are no longer bound by scripted responses. Advanced logic trees mean they can interact with the customers more naturally and offer 24/7 support.
Artificial intelligence to Predict & Personalize
Artificial intelligence opens up new possibilities in customer care from better predicting needs and problems to personalizing service for both B2C and B2B customers. As with chatbots, AI adds real value when used to support and not replace humans.
Employing machine learning to fully harness existing data on customers, seasonality and behavior allows companies on an organizational and individual level to better anticipate and fulfill customer needs and automatically incorporate those findings in future work.
More households now have at least one voice-powered virtual assistant, most commonly Amazon's Alexa. In 2019, the number continues to rise worldwide, particularly in the United States. Those under 30 years old are most engaged and have the highest adoption rates.
Voice assistants open up fresh opportunities to interact with and support customers. One of USU’s largest European clients in the insurance industry launched a range of support and information services for their liability insurance products on Alexa. This year will surely see further innovative uses of voice as companies experiment.
Social Media for Service
Social media is also being increasingly used in customer service. People prefer to interact with companies in the channels they already use instead of being forced to use the company’s website or phone number. But customers are not just tagging brands publicly. They are also sending private messages via Facebook and Twitter for example.
Nevertheless, most companies say they are not yet well-prepared for the flood of individual requests from social networks. International companies must also contend with different channels abroad.
Modern customer service must be able to both serve a variety of social media channels while also easily managing them in one place. Solutions such as Connect Social Media that integrates into your knowledge base are critical to successfully serving multiple channels and not leaving customer requests unanswered.
Omni-Channel Service – Be where your Customer Is
Chatbots, Voice assistants and social media bring us to the next major trend in customer service: omni-channel. In the past, the customer had to use the company’s preferred means of communication be it phone, mail or even fax! But the tables have turned. Companies today are expected to serve customers wherever they are.
On-the-go seamless customer support across multiple channels is already assumed by many consumers. This presents a challenge for companies who must still provide quick and accurate information while maintaining a constant overview of support requests. As channels proliferate, there is a real danger of leaving inquiries unanswered.
While none of these trends are surprising, they are driving deep structural change in the customer service and redefining the when, where and how of the business. Successfully transitioning to omni-channel service in particular requires companies to have a strong knowledge management foundation.