It’s tempting to talk tech when it comes to customer service trends. Yet, when Parature, from Microsoft, asked 10 customer service thought leaders to peer into their crystal balls for a peek at 2016 trends, they saw more than just data and devices. They saw human nature.
Here’s the quick recap of the top trends experts are expecting in 2016.
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10 Customer Service Trends for 2016—and beyond
Here’s a top-level glimpse of 10 Customer Service Trends to Watch in 2016. Drumroll, please:
- Mobile gets love. Companies will bring mobile out of the silo and into the integrated customer experience, helping them predict customer behavior, build brand stickiness, and even rescue customers at risk.
- Employees are empowered. Even in a world of outsourcing, companies will start focusing on talent plans for service and support. They’ll invest more in employee training, recruiting, and tools that improve the caliber of service today’s customers expect.
- Journey maps, everywhere. To better understand the total customer experience, companies will embrace this creative tool to help identify needs and unify the organization.
- Common sense prevails. Companies will refocus on old-fashioned customer service values. That means they’ll pay more attention to keeping it simple, fair, and real for customers.
- Digital channels multiply. Social media and self-service via mobile apps will continue to grow in popularity, evolving and improving along the way. Successful companies will adapt by viewing customer service as a profit center, not a cost center.
- Self-service content rules. 2016 will be all about helping customers help themselves. Companies will continue to offer support through how-to videos, FAQ pages, customer forums, and more.
- Help finds you. Self-service, meet the Internet of Things (IoT). Companies will deliver predictive, preemptive service wherever customers are—effortlessly.
- Customers take control. With Netflix, Uber, and other customer-driven applications gaining in popularity, companies will give customers more control over their services across devices, time frames, and more.
- Knowledge gets smarter. Quick access to knowledge will be essential for both customer and employee alike. Customers demand it and companies will invest in it because customized experiences can’t happen without it.
- The front line wins. Companies will need to evolve from customer service to customer engagement. Front-line employees will be better supported with information, training, and tools to personalize the customer experience.
If there is one key takeaway from this year’s trends list, it’s that whether you’re a techie, a people person, or a little of both, this is an exciting year to be in customer service. Work to empower your people, understand your customer, stick to your values, and get a little creative. Your customers will notice the difference, and you’ll earn a depth of loyalty that outlives trends.
Meet the experts
- Jeanne Bliss (@JeanneBliss): President of CustomerBliss and Cofounder Customer Experience Professionals Association
- Sumair Dutta (@Suma1r): Chief Customer Officer, The Service Council
- Annette Franz (@AnnetteFranz): Certified customer experience professional, founder and blogger of CX Journey
- Nancy Friedman (@TelephoneDoctor) Customer service author, keynote speaker, and trainer
- Al Hopper (@AlHopper_): Cofounder and customer service advocate, SocialPath Solutions
- Shep Hyken (@Hyken): Author, and professional speaker
- Matt Kresch (@Matt_Kresch): Director of Product Marketing, Customer Service, for Microsoft Dynamics
- Russel Lolacher (@RussLoL): Host, The Upsell Podcast
- Tricia Morris (@TriciaEMorris): Senior Product Marketing Manager and blogger at Parature, from Microsoft
- Bill Quiseng (@BillQuiseng): Customer service speaker, blogger, and award-winning writer