Now that 2017 has come to an end, here are some customer service predictions for 2018.
Technology related to voice recognition will be most impactful in 2018. The improvements in voice recognition has led to an increase in voice assisted controls usage ranging from voice controls on your mobile to home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo. Consumers will be engaging with companies via these voice-enabled channels and will have higher expectations on the accuracy and their capability to help answer customer service issues.
Technologies such as emotion-engines, which help analyze input to determine customers’ emotions could help personalize interactions and may prompt a seamless transfer to a customer service professional as a next step. For example, if a customer is repeating voice commands over and over and has an elevated voice, an immediate transfer might be necessary.
AR & VR
In relation to customer service, technologies like AR and VR will not be as impactful in 2018. Customers are just starting to use these technologies and it is still too cumbersome to have regular customer engagement through use of these technologies. Eventually a customer service professional could help a person fix a technical solution by doing a live AR demonstration, but there is not enough infrastructure in place for that to have a significant impact in 2018.
Challenges for Executives
It is important for executives to reorient how they view their customer service operations. The customer service leadership teams need to focus on meeting the needs of evolving customer expectations. Customer service will continue to be heavily impacted by upcoming technology and companies will need to evaluate how to leverage technology to enable quick wins while determining the right balance of human interaction and automation.
The use of video will continue to evolve in the customer service space. There has been an increase in using video to provide customers with things like visual “how to guides” and product demonstrations. These are much more effective than trying to illustrate something over the phone. Personalized videos are being used to provide customers with customization related to the specific services or products that they are interested in.
Self service functions offer greater convenience for customers and are being used across all industries. Self-service capabilities are improving and will continue to get better in 2018. While there is an increase in self-service capabilities, companies still have the opportunity to drive the interaction in a way that reflects the brand. For example, if self-service is done online or through an app, the design and interaction flow should be able to offer an engaging, personalized and efficient solution.
Gamification will grow as a trend because most of the customer service workforce will be millennials or Gen Z. Both of those groups learn, absorb information and get motived differently, so incorporating gamification into recruitment, training and coaching will continue to be more and more important.
As transactional customer service functions become more automated, the skills required for good customer service professionals are changing. There is a greater need to have both service and sales capabilities combined with the ability to learn about products and services in depth. After intensive training, the person will also need to be able to keep up-to-date with rapidly changing product/service developments. Consumers have access to a lot of product/service information and have often done some research on trying to resolve their issue through online FAQs prior to speaking to someone. It is imperative that the customer service professional has a level of expertise that can address more complex areas.
Key Learnings from 2017
Companies need to be on high alert to monitor any incidents and have crisis management processes in place. Customers expect a higher level of accountability and companies need to prepare their staff to be able to manage these situations effectively. It is important for all customer channels ranging from the contact center, websites and apps to be reactive enough to address any of these issues proactively. To avoid these issues, companies need to continue to take a customer-centric approach and to ensure that hiring and training practices are designed to ensure that incorrect behavior does not happen in the first place.
About the Author
Fara Haron is CEO of CRM Solutions, Arvato North America and Philippines. Fara has been with Arvato since 2009, holding various positions ranging from project management, business development to strategy. After graduating from RMIT University in Australia, Fara began her career at Accenture as a consultant focusing on clients in the High-tech and Telecom industries in Asia and North America. Fara was also part of Amdocs Consulting Division in Canada. In her current role, Fara leads a rapidly growing team of CRM professionals in the region and leverages her international experience to support Arvato’s global CRM business.