Anyone who works in the call center industry knows that it’s never too early for a company to start planning their customer service strategy for the following year.
Customer experience has a significant impact on business results, so if you haven’t already started to establish your strategy for next year, then now is the time. And if you are looking for some inspiration, here is my list of customer service trends you should watch out for in 2019!
Voice is not dead
Generation Z claims that ‘Phone calls are dead’. But are they really a thing of the past? It seems not. Although the volume of traditional phone calls connected with customer services has indeed dropped significantly over the last few years, voice will continue to be an essential part of customer service in 2019.
And here’s why: customers require a human touch in customer service interactions, and it seems they will continue to do so in the near future. Of course, businesses may try their best to leverage automated customer service tools in order to ease up their call queues, but customers will still expect to be offered the opportunity to talk to a live agent when needed.
Furthermore, speech recognition will definitely gain more ground in customer service in the upcoming years, as more and more advanced speech analytics technologies start appearing on the market. As a result, self-service IVRs utilizing speech recognition technology, allowing customers to resolve their own problems as well as seek help from a live agent if needed, will also become more popular.
Instant messaging will take over
The popularity of social media is skyrocketing, with more than 4 billion users worldwide in 2018. Among many other things, the rise of social media platforms over the past few years has completely changed the face of customer service, and is now paving the way for instant messaging as a customer service channel.
Customers don’t want to spend their valuable time anymore making phone calls or sending emails in order to contact a company. Instead, they would rather simply drop customer service a message on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, while they are in the middle of doing something else.
As CX experts say, you need to meet your customers where they actually are. And it seems your customers are increasingly to be found on messaging apps, so that is where you’re going to have to meet them. As such, it’s no surprise that more and more companies have started to implement instant messaging for customer communication. And I strongly believe this trend will become even more significant in 2019.
Mobile customer service – putting mobile first
Mobile usage has disrupted customer behavior like we’ve never seen before. These days customers basically do everything on their phones: they keep up with their friends, plan their social calendar, arrange meetings, check their bank accounts and pay bills, research their queries, and the list goes on!
And what else do customers do on their mobiles? The majority of customers, 70%, use their mobile when they need help from customer service departments.
As a result, one developing channel that will most likely define customer service trends in 2019 is mobile phones. Besides leveraging social media (which can also be easily accessed from mobile phones), innovative businesses have already started to provide customer service via their mobile applications.
Indeed, more and more mobile applications are now integrated into call center processes, meaning, for example, that customers can request a call-back or be transferred to live chat via a company’s mobile application.
Providing customer service via mobile phone has great potential for organizations, so it should definitely be on your company’s radar in 2019.
Artificial Intelligence – from average to good
Over the past few years, we can safely say that AI has become an essential part of customer interactions, with chatbots, virtual assistants, speech recognition technologies and predictive analytics gaining ground in call centers. Indeed, AI technology now allows companies to figure out the reasons why customers make contact, as well as come up with suggestions about what to do and even actually resolve simple customer queries.
And this is only the beginning! This year, we have seen AI technologies powered by machine learning, such as Google Duplex and Google’s Contact Center AI, transforming the business world around us.
Until now, our experiences with AI technologies haven’t always been great. Machine learning, the latest AI technology behind recent advancements, however, has great potential for transforming AI technologies from average to good, and we’re definitely looking forward to that.
Furthermore, thanks to machine learning and natural language processing, we can expect significant improvements in chatbot technologies as well. While quick and easy bot solutions will continue to address common customer queries, more advanced bots are poised to enter the market. As such, amongst other things, customers will soon be able to initiate real-time payments via customer interactions handled by bots.
Customer self-service will become the new customer service trend
Customer self-service has become a real game changer in the customer service industry, and for good reason.
Self-service is a form of customer support that allows customers to perform routine tasks without having to interact with a call center agent at all. (For more info on self-service, check out our articles on how to set up a self-service portal and how to increase revenue with customer self-service).
Customers today are increasingly looking to solve their problems themselves, rather than dial customer service lines. As a result, customer self-service has become ever-more popular with companies, allowing them to provide a comparatively simple way to manage customer queries.
As self-service is cost-effective and creates satisfied customers, businesses quickly embraced the idea and are trying to get a grip on it. Needless to say, in 2019 we can expect a major increase in use of self-service in general.
From multichannel to omnichannel
Multichannel communication is nothing new in the call center industry. In fact, businesses already leverage a number of channels for customer service in order to survive in a saturated market.
And while providing customers with the opportunity to contact your business on a number of channels is great, it can easily backfire if your channels are not integrated. And this is exactly why forward-thinking business have started to shift from multichannel to omnichannel.
In 2019 call centers will be expected to deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience to maximize personalization. Customers no longer accept that they have to repeat what they said previously to another agent through a different channel. Instead, they expect the agent they’re talking to know their interaction history and efficiently resolve their issue.
It’s simple: if you ensure that customer communication quality is the same for all the channels you use, you’ll be able to quickly resolve your customer issues without any hassle.
Real-time assistance will move up to a whole new level
Keeping up with ever-growing customer expectations calls for the implementation of new channels to provide seamless real-time assistance. Using video for customer service purposes is one of the most promising of these new channels.
Video chat, for example, enables advanced real-time support, personalized customer experience, and an increased first-call resolution rate. Video also opens up new opportunities in call centers, allowing customers, for example, to request call-backs through video chat, and giving agents the opportunity to send tutorial video attachments via email or live chat.
Furthermore, video chat solutions work effectively with features such as co-browsing and screen sharing, allowing your agents to remotely guide customers and even gain control of a customer’s screen during a chat interaction.
There’s no doubt, video will be one of most promising customer service trends in 2019 as it helps businesses create personalization and build relationships with customers, potentially reducing the time they spend looking for answers to their question.
As you can see then, from mobile apps to advanced chatbots and self-service options, businesses are continuing to leverage technology in order to improve their overall customer experience. Make sure you follow these trends to stay ahead of the competition.