Customer Service Trends
Customer service has become the new battleground in today's marketplace. In fact, 97 percent of customers around the world now say that customer service makes a key difference in whether they decide to go with a brand or not, Microsoft reports.
Many of the biggest changes in today's customer service landscape center around the mobile revolution and the corresponding shift to cloud-based services. Here are five trends that your company can leverage in order to gain a customer service edge on your competition.
Service is moving to cloud contact centers
Customer service is rapidly migrating to cloud contact centers. U.S. spending on cloud contact centers stood at $868 million in 2012 and will grow to $2 billion by 2019, representing a compound annual growth rate of 17.7 percent, the International Data Corporation (IDC) projects. Driving this migration is the increasing range of communication options available to consumers, which is pressuring companies to meet rising consumer expectations, explains IDC. Companies also see advantages in moving to cloud contact centers; they are easy to deploy, requiring minimal on-premises equipment. Since cloud infrastructures are usually hosted and managed off-premise by providers, cloud contact centers are also less expensive and require fewer support staff to maintain.They can also be scaled up as business demands, a particular advantage for companies that have seasonal peaks in business.
Customer service representatives are working from home
An increasing number of call center representatives are now working from home, which is also driving migration to the cloud. Hiring remote workers benefits companies by allowing them to spend less money on on-premises space. At the same time, hiring remote workers enables companies to expand staff as needed and to employ staff from any location to serve customers anywhere in the world.
Mobile customers need omnichannel support
In today's mobile environment, a single customer service ticket might start with a live chat conversation, move to a phone call and end with a follow-up email. An increasing number of customers also seek service through social media, which has seen an eight-fold increase in customer complaint submissions since January 2014. Twenty-five percent of customers seeking assistance now use at least two channels and 52 percent use three or four channels, according to Ovum. Providing a seamless experience across all communication channels requires a unified interface, which a cloud contact service center can provide. Companies that deliver good omnichannel support will have an advantage in customer satisfaction over their competition.
Customers want to serve themselves
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Another trend companies can leverage is the demand for self-service options. The majority of customers want to be empowered to handle issues themselves without help. Forrester research reports that 76 percent of customers use the frequently asked questions page of websites when seeking help, compared to 73 percent who use the telephone and 68 percent who use email, making self-service the most used customer service medium. By 2020, customers will handle 85 percent of their interactions with companies without requiring human assistance. Online knowledge bases are one way companies are delivering self-service. An increasing amount of self-service will also be delivered through voice-activated automatic speech recognition, a market companies will spend $16.7 billion on globally by 2017, BCC Research projects. Companies that provide self-service options will deliver a better user experience to customers.
When customers require human assistance, they prefer using live chat over speaking to a representative on the phone. Preference for live chat is highest among younger consumers, with 56 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds preferring live chat for all types of service inquiries. Live chat gets better customer service satisfaction results than other channels, with 92 percent of customers reporting good satisfaction for live chat, compared to 88 percent for voice service and 85 percent for web forms and email. Companies that deliver live chat support will have an advantage over competitors who do not.
By Roy Rasmussen