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The Future of Customer Service: 7 trends to look out for in 2020

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Customers now have more power and choice than ever before and in order to be successful, you need to possess a quality that makes customers want to use your company specifically. 

Today, that necessary quality is customer service. Contrary to popular belief, customer service isn’t always terrible. When done right, it can become one of the most important aspects of your business, however this is easier said than done.

There is no one-size-fits-all for how you should execute a customer service strategy, but we predict that some advancements in the industry could help you do this effectively. Here’s eight customer service trends to look out for in 2020.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Automation is everywhere. Technological advancements are enabling consumers across the globe to accomplish tasks without the assistance of another human being - and the customer service industry is no exception. It is predicted that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent and with the help of artificial intelligence. 

AI is being used throughout the customer service industry, from virtual assistants to chatbots. This self servicing technology now deals with the common queries and questions that were once a burden to customer service agents. Frontline representatives are then able to spend more time with specific customers to make sure their individual needs are met, rather than rushing from one customer to the next.

Artificial intelligence is also changing the way consumers use social media. The rapid increase in the use of messaging apps over traditional social media networks means customers are now searching for solutions to their problems in the more personal format of a private chat.

Messaging services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have created a brand new landscape for businesses to engage with existing and future customers. Companies now have the opportunity to use private chat as a means of increasing revenue and customer retention using customized, real-time customer service bots across messaging platforms.

This is evident by the fact that there are more than 34,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger alone and this number is set to increase substantially in 2020.

According to a HubSpot research report, of the 71% of people willing to use messaging apps to get customer assistance, the majority of them do this because they want their issue solved as quickly as possible. Chatbots, with their ability to answer questions automatically, help customers get the answers they need when they want them - every hour of the day, every day of the year.

In 2020, this technology is only going to get better, smarter and faster. As more customers are coming around to the idea of doing business with chatbots and virtual assistants, it's inevitable that this technology will become more commonplace in the future.

2. Omnichannel 

Consumer behaviours are changing. In order to keep your business inline with your customers, your sales, marketing and services teams need to be able to react and adapt to these changes. 

Currently, most businesses invest in a multichannel marketing approach, which is where a company uses a number of different platforms to reach a wider range of customers, such as a website, blog and a Facebook account. However, the issue with this model is that customers often still don’t receive a seamless experience where they are able to message consistently across all channels a company uses.

This is why an omnichannel approach is becoming more popular. It is defined as a multi-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out. Unlike a multichannel approach that places the business at the centre, omnichannel puts each and every customer experience at the heart of everything a company does.

Omnichannel allows for smarter customer service because it engages customers on the channels they are using, without directing them elsewhere. Rather than treating channels as mutually exclusive, omnichannel accounts for the spillover between channels and offers customer experiences within and between them.

Adopting this model seems like a logical choice, however, to execute it effectively requires an abundance of resources and flexibility which many companies may not have. It involves companies adopting a shared vision across all departments, as well as seamless alignment between your sales, marketing and services departments.

While this may not be a realistic goal for your company in 2020, you can still adopt some of the approach’s key ideas and implement them into your business now. For example, with HubSpot’s customer service hub, you can begin to track and engage your customers across the platforms they are using and build organization and efficiency into your customer service team.

For more information on how HubSpot can streamline your customer service department and align your marketing and sales teams, request a HubSpot demo with us today.

3. Social Media as a customer service channel

Social media is changing;  what was once a platform used by businesses exclusively for advertising has evolved into a medium through which customers can both celebrate and berate businesses for the world to see. 

Today’s customer is less likely to leave a Yelp review, but use social media to vent their concerns; so much so that 30% of consumers who have had a negative customer experience say that they would share it on social media or post a negative review online.

This makes social media a double-edged sword for customer service, as it allows customers to make their poor experiences public, which could be detrimental for business.

In 2020, it is predicted that 90% of businesses will be using social media for customer service. Therefore, your company will be judged on how it handles itself in the public sphere, so it's essential to  compose yourself and present your company in the best way possible. 

With this in mind, here are some ways you can deliver good customer service across social media:

  • Answer questions and queries as quickly as possible.
  • Offer customers resources to help themselves.
  • Reply to any shout-outs that recommend or celebrate your business - a simple thank you goes a long way.
  • If a customer posts a complaint publicly, solve it for them on the post. Pushing your customer to private message you could cause more issue as it is only necessary in certain circumstances.

Greater connectivity with consumers means that they expect businesses to engage with them wherever they are - even if that means dealing with a complaint publicly on Twitter.

4. Self service 

According to Harvard Business Review, 81% of all customers attempt to solve their problems on their own first before reaching out to customer service departments. 

Customers usually don’t want to wait for a long time in a telephone queue for a problem that, if they had the resources, they could solve themselves. This is great news for businesses as it offers them an opportunity to leverage it to their advantage. By giving your customers the self service resources they need, they will be satisfied knowing they solved their own problem, while praising you for helping them.

Here are some ways you can optimise your self service tools:

  • Knowledge base

One of the best ways you can create an invaluable self-service tool is to create a designated space on your website for issues that a number of customers have encountered with your product or service. You can do this by creating a knowledge base.

A knowledge base includes everything a customer needs to solve issues themselves without the need of a customer service agent, such as FAQ’s, discussion forums, helpful how-to videos and pamphlets.

The better your knowledge base is, the less time customer service agents have to spend on answering the same questions. Not only this, but customers will praise your business if you are knowledgeable about your industry.

  • Self serve portals

Through the use of AI, you can create chatbots on your website or across social media that offer customers the chance to solve their problems in an instant. The benefit of this is it frees up time for your human employees to focus on nurturing and retaining customers, instead of dealing with a hoard of minimal issues. This not only improves employee satisfaction, but it has the potential to bring in organic leads if the self-service portal is useful to website visitors that may need assistance.

5. Real-Time Communication

Customer service as an industry often gets a poor reputation because of the number of times customers are left waiting on hold or the general lack of support. However, through real-time online communication, such as live chat, businesses have the opportunity to bring all interactive platforms together for a seamless user experience, which can also improve the overall efficiency of your customer support team.

  • Real-time communication builds customer loyalty

Today’s consumers still value face-to-face interactions because it allows them to see whether a company is trustworthy. Real-time communication technology can help your company gain their trust and loyalty by giving customers the option to contact your business through voice or video call. This can help customers communicate in a much quicker and easier way with support reps

  • Real-time communication improve response rate and decreases hold times

It’s no secret that everyone hates getting left on hold - it’s why alternative methods of communication have been developed. Today, to improve overall response rates it’s essential for companies to offer multiple contact options across different communication channels. 

However, it's important that the same high level of communication is maintained across all of these channels. Real-time communication can help companies do this by simplifying customer support solutions and making it easier to move between the communications channels. This will not only give your customers a better overall experience, but they will be more likely to respond and engage with you because of it. 

6. Video

It is important that while companies continue to utilise evolving technology such as AI and social media, they don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face interactions and video. While you may think video is reserved for your marketing or sales teams, there are a number of different ways you can incorporate video into your customer service strategy. 

  • Live Video Chat

While live chat is one of the most popular ways to provide customer support, however video chat is fast becoming an alternative. You can use them to build and sustain a relationship with your customer throughout their buyer’s journey because it is a more intimate interaction.

This can help humanize your brand, as well as helping service reps do a better job. In live video chats, they can read customers’ facial expressions to judge their mood, and handle calls in a much more human way.

  • Video in emails

For customer service teams, this could be a great method used to address customer concerns in a way that feels more personal. Not only can you deliver more information in fewer words, but you can explain complex issues to your customers which could significantly improve customer satisfaction.

In 2020, the use of video to build stronger relationships with customers and reduce the time spent finding answers will be more commonplace. By integrating video into your customer-support strategy your company can become more innovative in the way it communicates with customers and build a long-lasting relationship.

7. Personalisation

Studies show that when companies used personalisation for product recommendations, it contributed to 31% of their sites’ revenue, which suggests you cannot ignore the potential of personalised recommendation. This is great for generating leads, but it can be difficult to see immediately the impact that personalisation has on customer service.

However, personalisation is essential within customer service. This is because long after a customer has made a purchase, they need to be nurtured in order to stay loyal to your company. In order to earn a customer’s loyalty, businesses need to deliver personalised customer service. These are just some of the ways you can do this:

  • Know your customer’s history 

You need to keep a record of each time a customer contacts your business in order to have a better understanding of any problems they are facing. When a customer contacts your business, a customer support rep should be able to access any previous communication and use it to help solve the problem. This makes customers feel like you understand their problem and they will trust you to help them.

  • Use customer data

Customers need to be able to trust you, so be sure to use your name in communication as well as theirs. However, don’t be too invasive. You need to use the right amount of personalisation to make the customer feel recognised, but not so much that your company comes across as untrustworthy because of the amount of personal information you have.

  • Give customers a voice

Customers like to feel like they are valued by your company and you can show this to them by asking for their opinion. Asking for feedback is a great way to use personalisation to make your customers feel that their opinion matters, and it can be an extremely useful tool for you to improve your customer service efforts in the future.

The customer service industry is always evolving. As companies grow and adapt to these changes, they will see an increase in customer satisfaction as well as praise for their brand’s commitment to their customers. With the proper measures in place, customer service can stop being a second thought and become one of the most important departments in your business that drives profit and retains customers who become loyal promoters.

It’s time companies stop seeing customer service as a sunk cost, and start viewing it as an opportunity. To make this a reality, you need software that makes it easy. HubSpot’s Service Hub has all the tools you need to help and retain customers at scale, organise your services team and create a frictionless customer experience. 

As a HubSpot Diamond Partner with years of industry experience working with some of the leading companies within the industrial, tech and professional services sectors, we know how to set you up for success. We can teach you exactly how best to use and optimise HubSpot for your customer service needs, and provide in-depth training services. 

For more information on how we can help you optimise your customer service strategy with HubSpot, request a free demo with us today.

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Topics: Marketing, Customer Service

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