3 Key Customer Service Trends for 2018

Three years ago, Gartner predicted that more than half of businesses would implement significant changes to improve customer experience by 2018. We are now living on the other side of that deadline – where CX must be at the top of your mind and the top of your game. Otherwise, it could cost you. The estimated price tag of losing customers due to poor service has reached $1.6 trillion in the U.S., according to Accenture’s Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement report.

But a major challenge for many businesses – even the most customer focused – is keeping up with the latest trends that define what “good” service looks like, as customer expectations and preferences are constantly evolving. At NewVoiceMedia, we believe that competing in today’s CX-driven economy requires businesses to understand the link between emotion and customer loyalty, and provide more personalized and emotive customer interactions.

We recently partnered with Bluewolf and Salesforce for a webinar on how today’s best service organizations are enabling those types of interactions, and the trends they will be focusing on in 2018. Here’s what we learned.

Providing a seamless omni-channel service that makes sense for your customer base is essential.

To survive in the customer experience economy, businesses have to adapt to customer behavior. That includes letting customers choose how they want to get in touch. Accommodating omni-channel capabilities allows you to meet your customers wherever they are and interact in a way that best suits them.

But as Bob Furniss, Vice President of Global Service Cloud Practice at Bluewolf points out, "It's not about having all the channels. It's really about having the channels that are most relevant to your customer." So, instead of following the latest trends, make sure the channels you add are a good fit for your customer journey. Consider the ways a customer comes into contact your brand, and the emotions that may influence or result from each interaction. Then, think about what you can do to positively impact those emotions -- for example, using intelligent routing capabilities in your contact center to ensure customer cases reach the agent who can provide the best, most efficient support.

Service teams must be empowered to provide more emotive customer experiences.

With the increased customer demand for omni-channel service, it’s important for service teams to get a full picture of how customers are interacting with the business. Having this data all in one place — the Salesforce platform – empowers agents with advanced insights on how to handle customer interactions, so they can build a rapport with the customer through a personalized greeting and service. Research has shown that these attributes are playing an increasingly bigger role in how customers evaluate their experience. During the webinar, Wyndham Hudson, NewVoiceMedia’s Vice President of Product, Sales and Service, cited Forrester’s CX equation: Customer experience is 25% if a customer can achive their goal, 25% the ease of the solution and 50% how it made the customer feel.

When employees feel empowered to succeed, they feel pride in what they do. This energy is productive and contagious, strips away barriers to connecting with customers and fosters emotive interactions that drive customer experience.

Embedding AI capabilities into Salesforce will enable businesses to better understand, support and predict customers interactions.

AI is hot in the contact center because it’s helping businesses analyze previously untapped customer data at scale, providing valuable context for driving more successful customer interactions. Businesses can use this data to hone in on more customer-centric metrics, such as “did you really solve the customer's problem” and “how did the experience make them feel?” For example, using AI in conjunction with a speech analytics solution allows service managers to easily access the once abstract insights captured during contact center conversations. They can mine this data to uncover points of frustration and sentiment across the customer journey; to review and understand how agents are communicating with customers (for example how much time they spend listening versus talking); and to coach agents to give special attention to the moments that matter.

During the webinar, Furniss broke down four ways AI will impact customer service in 2018.

  • Understanding — Integrating and assimilating external market data (social, personality, or segmentation) for directed selling or personalization;
  • Interacting — Chatbots, virtual assistants, or conversational apps that deflect inbound customer requests or automate process-driven, repetitive tasks;
  • Answering — Unlocking deep knowledge discovery, assisting employees in quickly and accurately recommending answers to complex customer requests;
  • Guiding — Predictive and machine learning models to instruct next best action with the customer.

 For more insights from the webinar, you can watch it on demand here. Also, be sure to check out our latest white paper, 3 Key Customer Service Trends for 2018, the definitive guide for how to win at CX this year.  

Written by Vonage Staff