Customer service concept

Having a good reputation in business is one of the key drivers of success in today’s digital, interconnected climate.

It’s impossible to escape negative reviews or an angry customer with an ax to grind. Angry, confused customers are unavoidable, and in many cases, you can learn from them. But, it’s how you handle the angry customers that will set your business apart from the competition. Having excellent customer service is crucial to your success, and the data supports it. After just one negative customer service experience, more than half of surveyed customers won’t do business with that company again. Customer expectations and the way companies respond to these shifting attitudes are continuously changing. To ensure your business success going into the future, you’ll need to keep abreast of these emerging call center and customer support and service trends. Below, we’ll cover the top 7 customer service trends that are shaping business success in 2018 and beyond.

1. Access Across Multiple Channels

Have you ever had to repeat a story again and again? When your five-year-old asks ‘why?’ on a never-ending loop, the frustration, the struggle, is real. Customers feel the same way. They hate repeating the same story. They just want their problem solved, or their question answered as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Customer service and support interactions used to take place via phone, or sometimes email. Now, businesses can communicate with their customers across multiple channels. This is a great thing, and it gives customers plenty of convenient choices to contact a company. It’s true that customers prefer having numerous support channels to choose from. But there is a catch.

If you offer multiple avenues for the customer to contact you, you want to make sure that accurate, up-to-date information is on-hand across these different channels. If a customer calls in with a complaint, and then someone follows up with them via email, then on to live chat, the customer expects the service employee to have their previous information on-hand while they engage across different support channels. Customers require support personnel to stay abreast of queries and support developments because there is hardly anything as irritating as repeating yourself over and over again.

Keep everything streamlined by making sure that support personnel has access to current customer information across multiple support channels. You’ll keep customers happy and get issues resolved quickly.

2. Video

Speaking of multiple support channels, video support is trending in the customer service industry. Video support channels offer customers a more personalized touch when interacting with a company’s support department. Furthermore, video support makes it easier and faster to resolve more complex issues. If you sell products that require assembly or installation, customers can quickly get confused about how to get the products up and running. With a video support channel at their disposal, a support person can give customers a convenient, easy-to-understand visual walkthrough on how to install or otherwise assemble and use a product.

But, you need to be careful with video support channels. Lagging, poor visuals and sound quality can quickly negate any benefits you may see from offering a video support channel for customers. This is especially true if you’re taking and fielding international calls where connections can be waker and more prone to disruption.

How can you protect your company’s reputation from poor video reception? Well, there are numerous, real-time streaming software development kits (SDK) designed to overcome reliability issues. You can install SDKs directly on your company’s website or app.

3. Organized Resource Pages

Gone are the days of the simple FAQ. FAQ pages, along with customer expectations, have evolved. FAQ and troubleshooting pages are becoming more comprehensive as we close out the year. By incorporating easy-to-navigate troubleshooting sections on your company’s website, you’re saving your customer’s time and money. They don’t have to spend extra cash on placing phone calls to your support team, nor do they have to take the time to compose an email. Enterprising companies have put together web pages and manuals with questions that range from simple questions and answers to more in-depth service information. Video series, blog posts, and eBook manuals are all very popular.

Self-educating tools and self-help resources save your business and your customer’s tangible and intangible resources. And they are a customer support tool that’s here to stay and continue to rise in popularity.

4. AI Solutions for the Customer

AI solutions have been a hot topic in the industry for 2018. Robots and algorithms are capably handling Low-level, simple customer questions. These AI capabilities are growing at breakneck speed and will continue to double each year. Also, AI support solutions were once cost-prohibitive for most companies, but in 2018, they’ve become affordable for even mid-sized and small businesses. Overall, expect to see the costs of running AI support systems continue to decrease as technology advances.

5. AI Solutions for Support Personnel

AI support for customers is an apparent new trend in the industry, but did you know that AI is also supporting the employee on the other end of the line? While AI can answer simple queries directly to the customer, AI is starting to offer solutions to the employee in real time. Emerging trends show that AI is now used to listen in on customer support questions. AI then can spit out the information and answers that the support agent needs, effectively making the job faster, more comfortable, and resolving the issues much more quickly. By incorporating AI support for your customer service agents, you can gain an edge over your competition. While they are lagging behind the times with analog support technology, you’ll be several steps ahead of the game with futuristic, helpful Intelligent Assistants.

6. Disruptive Convenience

Innovations in customer support and service that center around convenience will continue to disrupt the market. Society has already seen how Uber, Amazon, and Netflix fundamentally changed their industries with disruptive convenience. Going into the future, watch out for new, innovative ways to bring further convenience to consumers, particularly in the spheres of augmented and virtual reality.

7. Expect Consumers to Get Smarter and More Sophisticated

Technology has enabled consumers to recognize a good deal when they see one. On the flipside, they’re also educated enough to know when they are getting ripped off. Going forward into 2018 and beyond, more and more customers will continue to learn what excellent customer service is and experience it for themselves. They will increasingly come to expect good, streamlined, convenient and quick service and support from the companies they do business with. One strike, and you’re out.

As technology and customer expectations continue to evolve, businesses will have more opportunities to offer excellent support and service. Are you keeping an eye out for these trends, and incorporating them into your business practices? The tools you need are available.

With excellent call center support and customer service, you’ll get a massive boost to your company’s reputation, and continue to grow your customer base.

With top-notch customer support and answering services, you’ll easily differentiate yourself from the competition. To find out more about emerging trends in the support and service industry, check out the AnswerFirst blog.

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AnswerFirst Communications, Inc. has provided quality answering services since 1985. We currently provide answering services, virtual receptionist solutions and customer service solutions to thousand of clients around the globe.