The Future of Customer Service

“What’s dangerous is not to evolve”. – Jeff Bezos

In this age where customer is everything to a business, the future of customer service is evolution. How can companies not evolve – customers know a lot more and expect even more than they have ever. Predicting what the future of customer service will be a few years from now there is absolutely no room for doubt that customers would have raised the bar even further. The winners and most successful companies would be the ones who would have matched this pace, worked diligently and persistently towards anticipating the needs of the customer for the future and created experiences for customers that are memorable and seen as valuable.

As technology and access to information has increased, customer expectations have rapidly moved forward in keeping with these. Digitization and the explosion of information, has had an effect on the expectations of customers in a way that keeps them in control of the experiences they wish to have. Customers will exceedingly demand that companies know their needs and individualize the responses and solutions provided. Instant service will probably not be good enough with customers wanting companies to intuitively know how to address their needs both present and way into the future. This is the future of customer service – always ready, proactive and having an outlook that transcends limitations of time and space.

Companies that have a forward looking approach are the ones who will be able to adapt to this future of customer service. Being stuck and relegated in the past will be a sure way for companies to fail. Leveraging on sources like CRM, Big Data and Social Media will be the way to access intelligent information about their customers and also manage the vast amounts of data that would be available. The foundation will remain being able to provide effective and personalized service with the aim of building and retaining a large profitable customer base.

To secure the future of customer service in your company, it would be imperative to align available resources and focus on different kinds of customer satisfaction metrics. The secure future of customer service lies in treating it as a major strategic initiative wherein each person’s responsibility will be to unfailingly focus on the customers – external and internal. The customer service professionals would need to ramp up their skills and acquire new ones to keep pace with the burst of energy and demands from a customer’s point of view. The market will only get more competitive as new companies emerge and existing companies vie for the customer’s attention and unless there is a ‘sense of urgency’ and a passionate will to stand head and shoulders above others through customer service, companies will fade away.

The future of customer service will be about delivering more and more for less. Delivering the highest quality of customer satisfaction and experiences through every means and channel available would become the prime focus of companies. Delivering this kind of service would need to be consistent, indefatigable and unyielding – particularly in the call centre environments and the customer service teams.

Innovation and creativity will hold the key to being able to satisfy the customer’s demands as the ways and means that customer’s interact will change significantly. The new trends and changes will pose as the major challenges and keeping aware of these would be the first step towards succeeding. Realizing and accepting these challenges in the future of customer service will help companies remain competitive. Companies would need to better integrate all the channels of communication such that the messages sent out via each channel is the same and customers are able to see the company as one entity. Customers should be able to consistently respond through any channel of their choice and companies would need to respond immediately as per the expectations of the customer.

From the customer’s point of view, the future of customer service must remain human and have a personal touch. According to research currently at least 60% of customers would rather talk to an actual person than negotiate through an IVR system, irrespective of how efficient the system may be. However, contradicting this figure is 80% of companies trying to increase the number of self-service options for customers. To remain in business, companies will need to maintain a robust balance between the human interactions being demanded by customers and the automated services while ensuring that whatever is decided is conveniently accessed by customers via all communication channels.

The downside of access to so much information and tech friendly customers is that it provides customers with a wider array of products and or services. They will increasingly be able to get whatever and however they wish from any company, which in turn would reduce the prized ‘brand loyalty’ that some companies enjoy. The future of customer service would be in using it to stand above and be conspicuous through top-notch service while connecting with customers. It is not going to be easy and each challenge would need to be surmounted quickly if companies are to remain on top. Each solution and each interaction must reflect that your company is working for the benefit and support of its customers irrespective of the situation. Companies would need to use technology wisely and to their advantage by being – present i.e. which means physical presence through open forums, meetings, conferences, customer meets and such. There can be no replacing the importance of face to face interactions. Ensure that all channels of communication are constantly manned and efficient service is provided to keep up the level of a human connection when face to face meetings are not possible. The IVR system must work efficiently such that hold times, getting cut-off, non-resolution and other annoying instances are done away with. Demographics will continue to play a significant role as companies diversify and will be able to reach out to multi-cultural and customers from many countries.

Even as all channels are mentioned, the future of customer service will be in being able to manage interactions via social media. Companies would need to hire more skilled personnel and or train and coach the current staff to service customers with a much higher level of service and also build and sustain strong relationships with customers. Companies would need to secure their future and the future of customer service by using technology to improve efficiency, remain connected with customers and strengthen the relationships to gain industry leadership. Companies would need to steadily and persistently collaborate and exchange ideas to know how to best serve the customer.

The future of customer service would lie in not just serving customers, but helping them too to prepare for and face the future and combat emerging trends in business and the industry. Companies that will help their customers to sustain and add to their success will be the companies that customers would want to do business with on a prolonged basis. Customers would still want to know that the companies they work with can be trusted and that they are friends working towards mutual benefit and profit. It would become even more crucial to keep lines of communication open and healthy if customers are expected to provide repeat business and also be brand advocates. Customers will place even more emphasis on the interactions and experiences they have with the company and the kind of customer service they receive and will not think twice before switching companies and brands.

The truth is that there will many more driving forces that will shift and change the expectations of customers. These would include the concept of an economy being shared by many more, busier and more frenzied urban lifestyles and the unabashed desires of wanting and owning the newest product available in the market. Customer demands will be almost insatiable. To secure your company’s future, invest in new technology and keep a finger on the pulse of trends that would ensure you are able to anticipate the demands of customers. Companies that understand these concepts would also know that the future of customer service is likely to become tougher and it would be best to recognize, listen, value and care increasingly for their customers. Smart companies will find new ways and strategies to serve their customers and delight them at every step.

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

Interactive Decision Tree