As time goes by, there’s one thing that stays pretty much the same: the importance of customer support. In fact, research shows that by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as a key incentive for the purchase. For now, though, one thing is certain: plenty of global businesses have already been competing on the field customer experience, with great results. With 2020 around the corner, it might be high time for you to do the same. The first step to making it happen is to understand what your customers need, and how their preferences might change in the near future. Here’s how customer service trends are bound to evolve within the next decade, along with expert comments.
Customer Support Trends: 2020 and Beyond
1. Customers will be using multiple channels to check out your offer, get in touch, and receive assistance.
Omnichannel support is all about being there for your customers across the channels they use, and being consistent throughout those channels. Why is it important nowadays? Mostly because modern customers are active on websites, mobile and messaging apps, as well as social media – all at the same time. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but the tricky part is that they expect you to be there too, ready to answer their questions as fast as possible
What does this mean for your business, exactly? You can’t be afraid to experiment. There are multiple channels for you to take advantage of: social media, live chatting, and even text messaging. For the most part, your choice should depend on which platforms your customers use. To give you an idea: 63% of researched customers expect companies to offer support via social media, while 47% say that texting would improve their overall customer experience. These preferences might be different for your own target audience, though.
Still, picking communication channels is only the beginning: you should also strive to provide a seamless experience across all of them. Especially since 75% of today’s consumers hope for a consistent customer service experience at every point of contact. This might not be easy to accomplish, but it’s definitely worth the effort in the long run. Here’s how to rock omnichannel support in a nutshell.
“I think the biggest customer service trend in 2020 will be a huge shift to social media. Customers are used to interacting with brands on the platforms they love, and going to their email (or even your website chatbox) is not as natural as it is sending a message to your Facebook page. So, businesses are going to put a stronger focus on being available on social media as a channel for customer service. By using custom integrations, you will be able to connect different social media platforms to your website so that your customers can connect with your customer support team more easily and naturally.”
CEO & Founder of Better Proposals
2. Customer will expect an instant answer from you.
Nowadays, consumers expect fast and clear answers to their questions. They might even get frustrated and switch to another company if they don’t immediately get what they want. Luckily, there are certain concepts and tech solutions that can help you meet their expectations. Take conversational marketing as an example. This type of marketing is entirely focused on real-time conversations, in order to acquire new customers and move them down the sales funnel while building more meaningful relationships – which really matters if you strive to provide outstanding customer support
“Let’s face it. In 2020, there will be questions about your product and customers want you to answer them as quickly as possible. Hence, you should make sure that:
- There are no gaps in your service availability.
- There’s enough customer service staff to process all customer inquiries in a timely manner.
- Your customer service responds to customer questions as soon as possible.
Offering a live chat will help you cover all of these points. Of course, live chat software is only half the battle. You’ll also have to train your customer service representatives and make sure to keep your time to first reaction as short as possible.”
Co-Founder of Let’s be crazy
It’s true that conversational marketing often revolves around live chats, but there’s one thing you can leverage when talking to your customers: chatbots. When it comes to customer support chatbots, in particular, they usually use predetermined answers triggered by certain keywords to respond to basic customer questions via a live chat. This way, you don’t have to involve your customer support team in the process, while your customers get the assistance they need.
When can your business benefit from customer support chatbots? All the time, basically. When you think about it, chatbots are perfect for providing real-time, on-demand support to your customers. After all, they are “triggered” by your customers, and ready to answer their questions at any given time. That’s precisely why these days many brands use them to improve customer service. They might even take one step further and take advantage of AI-powered chatbots that use language processing to “sound” like human agents. They draw on existing information and resources and learn from each conversation to get better at solving specific problems and thus, serving your customers.
“Of course, chatbots are nothing new. They’ve been around for a couple of years. But since then, they’ve changed a lot and they will continue to change in 2020 and beyond. Chatbots will get better in harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to get closer to human behaviour. By leveraging these technologies, they’ll be able to learn from your customer service staff and use the new data to better understand customer queries and react accordingly. This way, you can reduce your customer service cost by using chatbots or re-allocate existing resources. Moreover, chatbots are always available and help you reduce the time needed to close your support tickets.”
CEP & Co-Founder at suitApp
Chatbot integration can truly make a difference for your customer service. It can not only support your team’s efforts but also bring your business (and your customers) a lot of benefits. In fact, customer service chatbots are estimated to save businesses nearly $11bn in support costs by 2025. With such a promising future, chatbots will definitely continue to be one of the biggest trends going into 2020.
3. Customer loyalty will be still paying off.
Over the years, many things have changed – but not the costs of acquiring new customers, which are much higher than when retaining the existing ones. In fact, loyal customers are five times as likely to buy again, four times as likely to refer your business, and seven times as likely to test an offer. Of course, customer loyalty programs are one thing – but providing your customers with a seamless experience and support to help them become more loyal is a different story. Actually, 69% of US consumers say that customer service is very important when it comes to their loyalty to a brand.
“When it comes to customer loyalty, some customers might be motivated by more practical concerns (such as discounts and special offers), while others prefer less tangible benefits – like high-quality, personalised service. That’s precisely why it’s worth to ensure a proper experience and support, and why it matters not only for your customers – but your business as well. In fact, if you truly want to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty, you should consider developing your own loyalty scheme and treat it as a central element of your customer relationship management efforts. With the right tools (such as dedicated mobile apps) – loyalty programs are an investment that’s likely to pay off in the long run, as it allows you not only to take your customer relationships to the next level, but also make mass personalisation possible, and provide you with valuable data on your customers’ behaviour throughout their whole journey, no matter the channel they use.”
Head of Consulting at Future Mind
Basically, customer service describes the ability to satisfy your customers. Only satisfied customers have the potential to become loyal – but they also expect outstanding support in return, to stay with your business for a long time. It’s clear to see, then, that customer service and loyalty intertwine. How to boost customer service and build loyalty? Start with setting customer service standards for your business. Your customers should know exactly what you’re willing to do for them, while your employees have to know how to make that happen. Then, it’s always good to try to exceed those expectations every once in a while. This is what outstanding customer service is all about, and what can easily differentiate you from the competition. And it’s not going to change anytime soon.
Key Takeaways for Improving Your Customer Support in the Next Decade
It’s this time of the year when everyone makes predictions about what’s to come. When it comes to customer support, however, there’s one thing that never changes. Customers expect remarkable service, support, and experiences across all points of contact with your business, and all stages of their journey. Luckily, there are certain things that you can do right now to start meeting these expectations for real – such as investing in proper tech tools to take your customer service to the next level. As a matter of fact, using technology to offer better customer support is a common theme when it comes to current trends. And that’s hardly surprising.