As time and technology advance, customer service delivery – with the continuing emergence and convergence of service channels – is becoming increasingly complex. Yet, from the customers’ perspective, service should appear seamless, and seem effortless, across channels.
But, as any customer service representative or team will tell you, it’s incredibly hard to do consistently. Mastering one channel is manageable; mastering and managing them all seems at times like a task made for Sisyphus – as you near the top of the mountain and success, another major channel emerges and you must start up the mountain again.
Making It Look Easy
Those brands and organizations that make the increasingly complex job of customer service delivery across many channels look and feel easy will see a growing benefit now and in the coming years from a competitive differentiator that begins with foundational preparation for current and future customer service trends. A recent McKinsey customer experience survey of 27,000 consumers across 44 industries shows that brands that focus and deliver on providing a consistent, satisfying, low effort experience across customer journeys realize positive business results including a 10-15% increase in revenue growth and a 20% increase in customer satisfaction.
As we look forward in preparing for the next big thing in customer service and engagement (and the next 10 or 100 customer service channels), we must also stay grounded in the day-to-day delivery of satisfying customer service. Therefore, we must carefully choose our focus on a few real and realistic trends that we, as brands and organizations, are confident will have a large and lasting impact.
If we can only pursue and invest in one or two in a given year, what should they be? And which will have the greatest impact on our employees’, brand’s, organization’s, industry’s and customer’s success now and in the future?
Five Focus Areas
In a new eBook, Parature, from Microsoft has asked customer service focused analysts and thought leaders including ThinkJar’s Esteban Kolsky, Intium LLC/Innovantage’s Brian Vellmure, The Service Council’s Sumair Dutta, Beyond Philosophy’s Colin Shaw and Parature Co-founder Duke Chung just that – for insights on trends to pursue that will have a significant impact across customer service efforts, and industries, now and moving forward. One of the five trends offered includes predictive analytics. In an eBook excerpt, CRM industry analyst Brian Vellmure writes:
I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” ~ Eric Schmidt, 2010
“When Eric Schmidt offered this quote, it was a bit controversial. But yet now, any search bar without autocomplete seems archaic. The confluence of multiple simultaneous technology advancements is changing the face of customer service. The world of powerful sensors and devices has created an explosion of data, processing power, and storage capability, which are enabling new possibilities.
While channel explosion, and richer digital media encroaches on traditional interactions, it is the engines that increasingly power these interactions that will continue to gain ground in 2015. The biggest and most important things in customer service in 2015 will be the continued advancement of self-service, predictive analytics, and recommendation engines.
Importantly, the next incarnation of what has traditionally been known as knowledge management is a critical core to enabling customers to get the answers they need – fast, accurately, and in the context of what they’re trying to accomplish. But if Eric Schmidt was right from a search perspective, I believe he was also right from a customer service perspective. Excellent customer service goes beyond providing the customer with an answer to the question they’re asking now.
While more customer service interactions will continue their transition to digital channels, machine learning will begin to make its presence felt in small ways that not only provide a direct answer to the query, but will likely also provide recommendations for additional content, products, and services that are relevant to what the user is trying to accomplish. Ask a question about a ripped raincoat; answers and queries from previous conversations and knowledge bases will surface with better accuracy. But we’ll also see new raincoats for sale, raincoat patch kits, windshield wipers, and perhaps a link to the RMA process in context, as well.
These recommendation engines will also be available to customer service reps governed by organizational guidelines, priorities and security access. Done right, the mish-mash of data and capabilities will be properly architected to help company and customer achieve the optimum shared value outcome.
New capabilities are continually pushing the envelope to stretch the boundaries of customer expectations. In 2015, we’ll see an extension of these as leading organizations attempt to continue to leverage technology to create better experiences for their customers (undoubtedly with failed experiments along the way).”
Interested to read what ThinkJar’s Esteban Kolsky, The Service Council’s Sumair Dutta, Beyond Philosophy’s Colin Shaw and Parature Co-founder Duke Chung had to say regarding trends that deserve and demand the focus of customer service teams and customer-centric brands and organizations, as well as get best practices for each?
Click below to download the complimentary eBook, 2015 Customer Service Trends to Watch: