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12 Latest Customer Service Trends & Predictions for 2020 and Beyond

Category: B2B News

Customers expect the best service, and they’re willing to spend more to get it. Businesses that don’t adapt to this market reality are likely to fail. But those that can adjust to these customer service trends may very well succeed.

Change happens fast nowadays. What’s effective today might become useless tomorrow. And with customer expectations never ceasing, how can businesses keep up with such changes? We’ve compiled these 12 customer service trends to help you get on top of crucial things to come.

customer service trends

With each passing day, customer satisfaction continues to be as elusive as ever. A recent survey found 91% of customers saying that they’ll only buy from businesses they trust. On the other hand, 77% are tired of poor customer service.

These are among the many reasons that underscore the sheer importance of customer service. If a business fails to provide quality service, it will likely lose profits and even customers.

Importance of Customer Service according to Customers

80%

Think the experience a company provides is as important as its product/services

76%

Expect companies to understand their needs and expectations

76%

Believe that it is easier than ever to take their business elsewhere

67%

Are willing to pay more for a great experience

Source: Salesforce 2018 State of the Connected Customer

Designed by

In a very customer-centric economy, running a business has become a high-stakes game. The biggest brands are offering 24/7 service, hassle-free returns, and zero-cost shipping.

How can an average business compete and succeed in this environment? Differentiating your product or service offerings doesn’t cut it anymore. Adding value to customer experience can help guarantee business success.

57% of customers say they won’t buy from a firm whose competitor offers a better experience. Businesses must not only meet customer demands–they should also provide real value to thrive and remain relevant as well.

1. Customer success becomes top service goal

Providing good customer service can never ensure your customer’s loyalty. Even offering excellent customer service experience won’t guarantee they’ll stick with your brand.

What’s the best thing to do? It’s giving your customers some actual value in customer service. That means helping them achieve their ultimate goal, which is customer success.

This is why companies are starting to focus on customer success to get ahead of the competition. Successful and happy customers will never leave. That’s a simple yet powerful formula for business success.

It’s really all about making customers happy

Customer success enhances customer service in numerous ways. Aside from driving repeat business, it also helps determine strategies for creating successful customers.

This trend offers considerable insights into how customer service should be. Traditional customer service is reactive, while customer success is proactive.

Customer success involves solving problems early on. It empowers customers with what’s necessary to succeed in their journey.

To drive customer success, deploying conventional customer service reps isn’t enough. Rather, you should deploy customer success teams and provide them with an efficient customer support solution.

Top Customer Success Challenges 2019

Reactive approach to customers

%

Visibility into customer adoption & health

%

Scaling the team

%

Prioritization and focus of tasks

%

Organizational alignment

%

Clarity of roles and goods

%

Executive support

%

Source: Totango's 2019 State of Customer Success Survey

Designed by

Customer success trend highlights

  • Customer success becomes the main customer service objective.
  • Successful product use drives repeat business.
  • Traditional customer service is reactive. Customer success is proactive.

2. Personalization is the new service standard

More than 70% of consumers are disappointed when they get indifferent experiences. This means that providing personalized service boosts revenues. 

Understanding the unique needs of consumers is key to winning their loyalty. People are inclined to pay more when they’re offered more personalized suggestions

Personalization offers many benefits to customers and businesses. This is why it has become a top trend in the customer service space.

Seamless in-store and online experience

Information is a crucial component of any personalized service strategy. In an omnichannel setup, the need for customer information expands even more. 

Brick-and-mortar store customer reps should know what customers purchased online. Social customer agents must know in-store buying histories. Be it virtual or physical encounters, service teams should always be on top of any customer encounter.

Customer service teams mustn’t offer suggestions just for the sake of making them. Recommendations should be relevant and on point. Vague product suggestions have low personalization value.

State of Personalization Among North American Marketers 2019

76%

of marketers in North America rate their “customer-centricity” as either basic or absent

30%

of marketers claim to have no processes whatsoever for personalization

26%

of marketers have zero personalization technology

Source: Dynamic Yield's Personalization Maturity Assessment 2019

Designed by

Personalization trends highlights

  • Personalized service drives revenues and wins customer loyalty.
  • Information is crucial to providing personalized customer service.
  • Product recommendations should be accurate to be effective.

3. Mobile remains the preferred channel

Smartphones continue to be the channel of choice for customer service transactions. With 5.11 billion unique mobile users worldwide, this trend is to be expected.

The majority’s preference for mobile spreads to most people’s activities nowadays. Among in-store shoppers, 80% of shoppers use their smartphones for product comparisons, reviews, and branch locations. 

So from such an inclination, 70% of consumers say that mobile was their top tool for pressing concerns.

Even millennials who contact customer service use their smartphones 43% of the time.

Bridging the physical and digital worlds

Mobile has become today’s new digital hub. It has become people’s reliable connection to the physical world, too.

Consumers’ reliance on mobile will grow more. Mobile is very powerful that it can completely change how businesses operate.

To ensure you’re providing the best customer service, always prioritize your mobile service delivery. If you regularly deploy technicians or agents for outside service, use only the top mobile field service software.

Most Preferred Customer Service Channel

Mobile customer service trend highlights

  • Smartphones continue to be the channel of choice for customer service transactions.
  • Most consumers use mobile for addressing urgent issues.
  • Mobile is the hub that connects people to the physical and digital worlds.

4. The Rise of the empowered service agents

Technological solutions help customer reps do their jobs better. These efficient tools will be useless if reps are not allowed to take action.

Agents are the front-liners of customer service. Naturally, they’re the first ones to identify more prevalent issues.

Empower them with what they need to warn decision-makers fast. Better yet, enable agents to solve the issues themselves.

Customer support trends indicate that agent empowerment offers numerous advantages.

What are the benefits of agent empowerment?

Customer service trends in hospitality offer a wealth of use cases. Some top-tier hotel brands authorize customer reps to offer solutions without intensifying problems. 

For instance, customer agents at Ritz-Carlton can spend as much as $2,000 to resolve a valid complaint. Based on the hotel’s study, a real-time refund discount drives client satisfaction and loyalty.

Ritz-Carlton’s customer empowerment program is very effective. It has helped the hotel chain immensely. And no agent has given away $2,000.

This trend underscores the value of empowering customer service teams. Businesses that enable agent engagement get as much as 50% more loyal customers.

empowered service agents

Empowered service reps trend highlights

  • Empowering employees can enhance customer service quality.
  • This approach helps prevent customer issue escalation.
  • Businesses with engaged reps are 50% better at gaining customer loyalty.

5. Smart AI chatbots continue to drive self-service

More consumers prefer to use a knowledge base or address their problems on their own. People want quick results all the time. This is why the self-service trend continues to rise.

This is the perfect scenario for artificial intelligence-enabled chatbots. These sophisticated customer service tools enhance the efficiency of any existing knowledge base by simplifying self-service.

AI chatbots have advanced customer service in any business and industry. By 2020, 80% of enterprises will be using chatbots. In the banking sector, chatbots use is expected to automate as much as 90% of their customer interactions by 2022.

It learns fast as it provides quick help

What’s likely most fascinating with artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots is their ability to acquire learning as they operate. 

Aside from making information access easier, AI chatbots equipped with machine learning (ML) actually learn from every transaction. This enables them to search for answers and determine the customers’ actual intent.

Chatbots came in second to online chat when service channels are ranked based on providing quick responses. It will likely be the channel to dominate a few years from now as trends suggest.

Smart AI chatbots trends highlights

  • AI chatbots boost customer self-service.
  • The number of businesses using AI chatbots will increase across industries.
  • They learn and expand their capabilities from every customer interaction.

Most Popular Customer Service Software

  1. Freshdesk. An AI-driven help desk software with omnichannel capability, smart automation and self-service portal designed to help you meet today’s customer expectations. This Freshdesk review details its full capability.
  2. Salesforce Essentials. Bundled to meet the unique CRM and customer service requirements of small businesses, it leverages the infrastructure depth of the pioneering cloud vendor. Our  Salesforce Essentials review walks you through the feature set.
  3. Zendesk. A suite of support, chat, knowledgebase, CRM and call center tools that you can use separately or as a single customer-engagement tech stack. For more details, read our Zendesk review.

6. Providing real-time support

Many people love to window shop. Even without intending to buy something, people look around. What if something suddenly catches their interest and decide to buy it? 

This is a perfect opportunity for live chat. You must tell them that you’re there to help by offering them live, direct access.

Customer service trends in banking industry indicate that offering real-time support is helpful since it:

  • cuts response time
  • enhances customer engagement and satisfaction
  • offers customers unparalleled convenience
  • helps solve customer problems fast
  • drives conversions.

Technological tools have limitations, too

Yes, AI, ML, and the rest of the sophisticated technologies are wonderful. However, these tools only work in situations they know. Beyond their capabilities, customer service reps should take over.

This is why deploying chatbots should always include human support on stand-by mode. Agents should handle emerging complicated issues; beyond what chatbots know at that time. It should be done in real-time to prevent issue escalation.

Offering live chat offers businesses numerous advantages. These include a positive impact on customer loyalty, sales, and profits. Maybe it’s time for you to understand what live chat is best for and get one to boost your service quality?

Why More Businesses Are Offering Live Customer Service

79%

of companies say offering live chat positively impacts their revenues and customer loyalty

38%

of consumers are more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat support

29%

of consumers have told friends or colleagues about a positive live chat experience

Source: Kayako

Designed by

Real-time support trend highlights

  • Live chat helps businesses to always take advantage of emerging opportunities.
  • Customer reps should always be available for technology failures.
  • Live chat offers benefits like positive effects on revenues and customer loyalty.

7. Data-driven customer service

Who doesn’t want to be well-liked in today’s social world? Every business does. But having a positive brand image doesn’t mean that consumers are actually buying your products.

If this is the case, there must be something wrong with how you’re using your customer data.

This is why data-powered customer service has become a trend nowadays. It simply involves knowing what your customers want and acting on it.

Customer data is the key to enhanced CX

To offer the best customer experience (CX), you must have technological tools that generate actionable insights. And your help desks are teeming with such valuable data to fuel your business analytics.

Customer service trends in manufacturing indicate that a focus on analytics offers many benefits. Most help desk solutions already have integrated tools and processes. These enable manufacturing firms to instantly embed data-driven insights to inform and guide each service decision.

It’s also good to invest in customer experience management software to enhance your analytics capabilities.

Data-driven customer service

Data-driven support trend highlights

  • A positive brand image is useless if it doesn’t translate into actual sales.
  • Data-driven customer service helps businesses use customer data to their advantage.
  • Offering the best customer experience requires the right tools for generating actionable insights.

8. Social customer service sustains efficiency

From connecting family and friends to marketing and sales, social media has been great. For customer service, it has been a reliable tool. Social media customer service trends suggest that these networks offer unique capabilities that other channels can’t.

More and more businesses are already using social networks to respond to customer queries. Social media is useful in quickly resolving client issues, as well.

Of all customer service requests done over social media, 45% are acted upon by businesses. This is why you should have a social media management software to closely monitor these requests.

How to have more likes?

Leveraging the power of social media isn’t easy. But following some social media, customer service trends will help you get the most out of it.

For instance, when addressing a customer complaint, solve it in the same post, and do it fast. There’s no better way to show your dedication than declaring it to the social world. Always say thanks for their kind words and recommendations.

Be proactive with potential issues. Clarify them on social media early on. Diligently respond to questions and provide useful resources.

Social media can offer the best way to personalize your service. Businesses that use social customer care trends tend to have more likes than those who do not.

Social Response Time Customer Expectations

Immediate

%

Less than one hour

%

Half a day (6 hours)

%

One day

%

One to two days

%

Won't expect a response

%

Source: Genesys 2015

Designed by

Social support trend highlights

  • Numerous brands are using social media for their customer service activities.
  • Almost half of businesses respond to customer queries sent through social networks.
  • Social media provides a powerful approach to offering personalized service.

9. Ticketing systems get more sophisticated

In an omnichannel world, centralizing your customer transactions is critical to success. And to consolidate all such activities, a ticket system offers the best option.

Ticketing systems remove the dilemma of putting all communication into a single thread. Be it social media, email, or phone. Every transaction is stored in the same location.

An integrated ticketing system supports continuity of service. Previous transactions are continued even if different agents get involved. This increases the resolution rates, as well.

AI and ML elevate the service level quality

Help desk solution vendors are now integrating AI- and ML for ticketing systems. Predictive analytics will likewise empower customer service teams with improved decision making.

Some platforms already use artificial cognition to better facilitate service request routing. Artificial cognition enhances ticketing processes like automated categorization and prioritization of incidents.

AI capabilities are already used in some of the top IT service management software systems.

Ticketing systems trend highlights

  • Ticketing systems continue to get more sophisticated.
  • AI and ML capabilities boost ticketing system efficiencies.
  • Ticketing solutions now use artificial cognition for improved service request routing.

10. Video enhances customer experience

Recently, the number of live face-to-face customer service interactions is increasing. Video is poised to account for over 80% of all online traffic by 2020. Video now provides customer service.

Customer service video chat is proving to be an excellent option for businesses. It allows face-to-face transactions and offers better security over emails. What’s more, 79% of customers choose live video chat because it offers the fastest response to their questions over other channels.

For businesses, it makes them more credible versus those still not using video chat.

What makes video chat stand-out?

Video chat enables businesses to deploy sophisticated technology without losing the human touch. Some of today’s top global firms are also ready using video chat for their customer service. These include Google, Amazon, Target, Bank of America, and American Express.

Screensharing is an emerging method for video-based customer service. This involves an agent taking over the screen on the customer’s gadget to resolve an issue. While the customer can see the agent, there’s no need for the customer to show her face for privacy reasons.

This innovative customer service strategy is ideal for businesses seeking to build long-term relationships with their clients. Video automatically establishes a more personal connection, which represents your brand’s value. It can enhance the trust level of your service team, as well.

Same as the other trends, video chat offers a quicker way to resolve customer queries and problems. People like being able to connect with a support member fast, without the need for their phones or other gadgets.

Why do Customers Prefer Live Video Chat?

I get my questions answered immediately

%

Because I can multi-task

%

It's the most efficient communication method

%

Once I used live chat, I realized how well it works

%

Better information than if I emailed

%

Because I'm in control of the conversation

%

Source: Acquire 2019

Designed by

Video chat service trend highlights

  • The number of live face-to-face customer service interactions is increasing.
  • Using video chat empowers businesses to employ human-technology collaboration.
  • It can instantly connect at a more personal level, which is good for your brand.

11. Omnichannel enters customer service space

Omnichannel first conquered marketing by storm. Next up is the customer service sector. Providing omnichannel customer service means allowing customers to reach businesses using any platform.

A recent study verified the extensive benefits that providing omnichannel service brings. On the one hand, businesses that consistently provide omnichannel customer service across channels keep 89% of their clients. On the other hand, those that do not offer consistent service can keep only 33%.

How to provide a seamless customer journey

Nowadays, customers expect businesses to provide service on the channel that customers prefer. This may be via social media or through mobile, web, SMS/text, email, or voice.

To succeed, companies must be able to provide a seamless CX regardless of any channel. By 2020, customer experience is expected to be the top differentiating strategy, over product and price.

This trend indicates that merely offering service on various channels won’t cut it anymore. To be effective, omnichannel customer service must be provided consistently.

Omnichannel customer service image infographic

Omnichannel service trend highlights

  • More and more companies are starting to use the omnichannel customer service approach.
  • This involves consistently providing service on the channel that a customer chooses.
  • Providing uncoordinated customer service on various channels isn’t enough.

12. Freelance customer service setups grow

Companies are turning to the new gig economy to augment their customer service operations. By 2020, this trend will experience further growth.

Performing customer service from home is more comfortable than at the office. This work setup provides businesses with the freedom to find and retain better talent.

When companies need additional service reps in urban centers, the cost of living is expensive. Freelancing empowers companies to list a job as a remote work opportunity.

Over 162 million people currently work as freelancers in the US and EU. The turnout of high-quality candidates will likely be remarkable.

Why leverage the power of freelance customer service?

At present, almost 80% of Fortune 500 firms use or are planning to use home-based agents. This indicates that dynamic brands utilize flexible workers as a major part of their business model.

This current gig economy-centric approach allows companies to be more agile. It likewise allows them to cut costs and to respond faster to volatilities in customer demands.

Most of these flexible workers perform core jobs like technical support and customer service. The differences between traditional call center employees and flexible agents justify this emerging trend.

BPO vs Work at Home vs Freelance Agents infographic

Freelance customer service trend highlights

  • Companies are shifting to home-based customer service providers to augment their needs.
  • The majority of Fortune 500 companies are using or are planning to use flexible agents.
  • Working with flexible agents offer more advantages over traditional call center reps.

Is your customer service in tune with the trends?

This collection of key customer service trends offers a wealth of actionable information for businesses of any size and industry. To help you better appreciate these trends, here are crucial questions that you must address:

  • Is customer success the ultimate goal of your customer service?
  • How good is your customer personalization practices?
  • Does your company offer mobile customer service?
  • Have you empowered your agents enough?
  • Have you deployed your own AI chatbots?
  • Are your service teams providing real-time support?
  • Does your company offer data-driven customer service?
  • What is the quality of your social customer service?
  • Have you upgraded your ticketing system?
  • Do your agents use video to enhance customer experience?
  • Is your customer service already omnichannel in capability and quality?
  • Have you considered using freelance customer reps?

Congratulations if your answers are mostly “Yes.’ This means your customer service is in-tune with industry trends. However, if your yeses are not that many, don’t fret. You already have these actionable insights to guide your service upgrade.

Before you go, alongside these latest trends, it’s also good to know the latest customer service statistics.

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. No stranger to small business hiccups and drama, having been involved in a few internet startups. Prior to his for-profit ventures, he has had managed corporate communications for a Kansas City-based Children International unit.

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