A study by YouGov determined that 2 out of 3 customers switch providers if they are dissatisfied with their customer service experience. That means that manufacturing and service providers must ensure that they stay up to date on the latest technologies and apply them to ensure continued customer satisfaction in their field services. Thankfully, The dawn of the Digital Age brought with it a host of new technologies. For years, the latest trends in business have included some of the key products of digitalization and the digital transformation: automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality. With these innovations becoming mainstream and customers becoming smarter about good service, companies are devising new business models based on these technologies and redefining the customer relationship. These are some of the trends expected to play a big part in customer self-service in 2018.
One of the key measures of successful customer relationship management will be how well companies know their customers and can cater to their demands. And this in turn will drive customer loyalty. The best-in-class already have a number of methods in place for tracking their customers’ needs and habits.
● Omni-channel programs: 51% of companies rely on at least 8 channels to communicate with their customers and enhance the customer experience. Companies will spend 2018 solidifying the groundwork for these omni-channel programs to ensure that company messaging is consistent across all platforms. By cross-referencing customer interactions across all these channels, companies are able to gain a comprehensive view of customer preferences, concerns, and complaints. This information is then utilized to cater their offers and services.
● Self-service analytics: According to a study by Aberdeen, this is the area that will see the most amount of growth in 2018. Currently, 52% of companies rely on analytics to intelligently analyze how well their self-service websites, chatbots, and messaging systems are meeting customer expectations and solving issues. This number will increase by 32% over the course of the year. Text analytics, in particular, is making it possible for companies to pinpoint keywords across different channels -like chatbots, live chats, and more - that might indicate the levels of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the entire service experience. These analyses will help companies refine their self-service systems and determine how best to adapt them to their customers’ abilities and expectations.
Technological innovations like smartphones and tablets have been simplifying our lives for years. Successful service companies are integrating these everyday tools into their self-service products to provide a more accessible and convenient customer experience. They are also capitalizing on the connectivity of devices and software to simplify navigation for customer service representatives.
● Mobile devices: Service companies can be almost certain that customers have access to mobile phones and devices. Not only are these devices ubiquitous, customers are familiar with them and always have them readily available. Successful companies are building apps and integrating QR code technology to enhance and speed up the self-service process. In addition, this added communications channel provides a direct and interactive link to customers, which is a real competitive advantage.
● Unified Agent desktop: By consolidating numerous enterprise systems into a single application or agent desktop, customer representatives are able to navigate information across different media. That means that e-mails, chats, tasks, and more are all under one roof. On the one hand, this simplifies the job of customer service representatives. On the other hand, this comprehensive view ensures that important customer communications do not get overlooked. This is especially important when a customer self-service attempt is unsuccessful and live assistance is required. Having full and detailed access to a customer’s service history guarantees that the representative does not repeat all the same steps the customer has already taken. This saves time and prevents customer frustration.
● Automation and Artificial Intelligence: With self-service analytics gaining importance, automation is becoming even more relevant. With the massive amounts of data being collected, it is getting more and more complicated, if not impossible, for data scientists to sift through it and determine patterns. And speed is essential for convenience! If the data is showing that customers are struggling with certain aspects of the self-service tool, companies must be able to react quickly. By automating this process and relying on AI tools to perform quick analyses, they are better positioned to respond to kinks in the system and implement necessary change sand adjustments.
Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots
Chatbots relying on artificial intelligence technology are revolutionizing customer self-service. When fed the proper information, they require no supervision. Unlike customer service representatives, they can perform multiple chats at the same time. They are constantly available, and there are no wait times for using them. This makes them an ideal supplement to traditional service tools.
Currently, 23% of companies have integrated chatbots into their customer service systems. This number is set to increase by 28% in 2018. They are generally reserved for more simple tasks that, when added up, consume a large amount of time for customer service representatives. Giving customers the opportunity to address these issues without live assistance not only ensures that problems are solved quickly, it also frees up time for customer service agents to tackle more complex issues.
Chatbots are also omni-channel
Chatbots operate through voice and text and can be used across a variety of communication platforms. 2018 will see increased integration with existing applications like Facebook Messenger, text messaging, Google Home and Amazon Echo. So companies relying on chatbots will simultaneously have to ensure that their omni-channel programs are effective and extensive.
Enhanced service experience for customers and employees
The concern that the digital transformation is churning out technology and innovations that will replace human labor has thus been unfounded. 2018 will be a further indication of how these tools are not a threat, but rather a means to improve the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of how companies do business and customers get served. This year, as companies place more power in the hands of their customers, we will get the first real vision of how the digital transformation will empower us all.
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