Now that 2018 has come to an end, it’s time to take a look at what lies ahead for the customer service industry. This year is shaping up to be particularly important for self-serve and AI technologies in the customer service sector and radical changes are just over the horizon. With this in mind, we take a look at the top seven customer service trends we expect to see in 2019.
1. Moving from public to private
Over the last few years, one of the biggest changes to customer service provision has been the migration of customers from private channels, such as email and the telephone, to public channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. In 2019, we’re expecting this trend to reverse and for an increasing number of customers to return to private channels.
However, they will not return to the same private channels used previously. Instead, a growing percentage of customer service interactions will occur over private messaging services. These will include Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, amongst others.
2. Make it conversational
Though customer service agents are always encouraged to be friendly and helpful, they’ve traditionally been advised to maintain a slightly detached, professional tone, too. In 2019, we’re expecting this attitude to change and for customer service departments to begin instructing their employees to adopt a more personal, conversational approach – particularly when it comes to text-based interactions.
This is a popular move with organisations that have experience with chatbots and that recognise the popularity of more informal, conversational interactions. The use of emojis and other multimedia communication tools is also increasing and we’re expecting to see a few more crying laughing emojis in interactions with customer service agents in 2019.
3. Increased use of complex chatbot services
Chatbots have long been hailed as the next big thing in customer service provision and, if 2018 was the year they delivered on this promise, 2019 will be the year this powerful technology really starts making an impact on consumers.
While the potential benefits of chatbots (e.g. 24-hour customer service provision and enormous savings – some reports suggest that chatbots could cut business costs by $8billion by 2022) are well known, the simpler, early models are not yet sufficiently developed to deliver on these claims. However, newer chatbots are utilising Natural Language Processing, as well as other types of AI technology, to create a far more complex and capable customer service tool. This results in a more satisfying customer service experience and benefits both clients and businesses alike.
4. Rewarding the most loyal of customers
Businesses now have a great deal more experience developing “basic” digital technologies like apps. This allows them to be produced at far lower cost and to be developed for use by a much smaller audience. Towards the end of 2018, we saw a number of major brands launch apps that could be used by only their most loyal of customers.
This exclusivity is both a reward for the customer’s repeat business and an incentive for other customers to shop more. This year, we’re hoping to see businesses come out with a more varied and inventive array of customer rewards. Of course, the most effective will be those that build the brand and can be leveraged as a means of harvesting important customer data at the same time.
5. AI gains predictive powers
Everywhere we look, the predictive powers of AI are being used to help determine what customers are likely to do after completing a certain action. Watched a new programme on Netflix? Here are some other shows that you may enjoy. Bought a new gadget on Amazon? You may want to consider purchasing this to accompany it. Been listening to your favourite band on Spotify? Try out this new artist.
Predictive AI is becoming increasingly powerful and is being employed in a growing number of fields. In 2019, we expect it to be used in a customer service setting to ensure that customers’ needs are pre-empted and that, having completed an interaction, they’re presented with a number of follow-up actions that are likely to prove helpful.
6. Greater reliance on social data
Despite it not having been a great year for the social media giants, businesses will become increasingly reliant on social data in 2019. Social data is defined as any information that social media users share openly on these platforms. It can include anything from location data to a user’s preferred sports team and also encompasses any data that can be drawn from personal posts or likes. This makes it useful in determining individuals’ personal, political, and ethical viewpoints.
Having this type of information allows businesses to better target their marketing and advertising by ensuring they emphasise the right features. For instance, a business may recognise that a particular individual has an interest in environmental groups. This data would then allow them to tailor their advertising to this individual by emphasising the environmentally friendly features of the product.
7. Developing complete self-serve systems
Our final prediction for 2019 is that this year will be the first in which businesses begin to really integrate their self-serve technologies to create a comprehensive, unified, and holistic self-serve platform. From the humblest of self-serve mediums, the FAQ, to the most complex and current chatbot technology, businesses need to be working out how their self-serve tools fit together and how they’re integrated into the wider customer service system.
Though self-serve technologies are becoming increasingly powerful, there is still no single channel capable of handling all customer issues. Consequently, a considerable amount of thought needs to be given to how they interact and are used together. As consumer habits change and they demand to be able to access a business’ services at any time and in any place, companies need to respond by ensuring that their self-serve technologies allow for quick and easy navigation, as well as seamless channel shift.
Over the last year, we’ve watched as chatbots and AI technologies have gradually grown in import and ability. Likewise, we’ve seen social data used to both good and questionable ends. In 2019, we expect to see these tools emerge as the driving force behind a new type of customer service provision. However, the increased use of self-serve technologies will only result in financial benefits if they can be successfully integrated into an omnichannel system alongside human agents. We expect this to be the crucial challenge faced by businesses in 2019 and are looking forward to helping our public and private sector partners navigate their way to customer service success.
Have a question or want further information on improving customer service in 2019? Our expert team have been providing customer contact solutions for over 25 years. Call us on 01344 595800 or drop us a line.