Customer service trends can make or break your business. In 2015, 75 percent of companies recognized customer service as a competitive differentiator, an increase of 18 percent in two years, according to an annual Dimension Data benchmarking report. Customers give service even more weight, with 97 of customers saying that service is a key factor in whether they decide to go with or abandon a company. For companies, this means that delivering superior customer service can give you an edge over competitors. Here are four customer service trends that competitive companies are following in order to get ahead of their rivals.
Customer Service Is Moving to the Cloud
Customer service is in the middle of making a major transition from on-premise centers to cloud contact centers. U.S. spending on cloud contact centers will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.7 percent between 2015 and 2019, an IDC report projects. One reason driving this increasing demand for cloud contact centers is the need to deliver customer service across multiple channels, IDC explains.
Cloud-based contact centers make it easier for customer service representatives to see information collected from different channels in a single interface, enabling representatives to switch from one channel to another while serving a single customer ticket. For instance, a ticket initiated by live chat can be followed up through phone or email without representatives needing to ask the customer the same information again, saving both time and frustration and creating a more satisfying experience.
Customers Expect Companies to Value Their Time
By saving time, cloud contact centers address another key trend in customer service. Seventy-three percent of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to deliver good service, according to Forrester’s Kate Leggett, who has been tracking customer service trends for several years. Leggett says that in 2016, companies will shorten customer service resolution time by supporting the ability of customers by offering self-service appointment scheduling and enabling agents to dispatch service technicians on schedules that meet customer needs. For instance, some cable and satellite TV providers, such as Comcast and Dish Network, are now using apps that let customers select time windows for service calls and receive alerts when technicians are on the way, shortening customer wait time.
Customers Prefer Self-service
One way companies are saving their customers time is by offering more online self-service options. Seventy-three percent of customers say they want the ability to solve problems on their own, according to an Aspect survey. Customers are increasingly using web and mobile self-service options to solve problems they can handle themselves, reserving live service for harder issues they can’t resolve on their own. Companies are using online knowledge bases and knowledge embedded into physical devices to give customers the power to serve themselves.
Customers Prefer Live Chat to Phone Calls
When customers do need help from a representative, research shows they increasingly prefer live chat to phone calls. In fact, 49 percent of consumers prefer live chat when asking online shopping questions. This number is highest among consumers ages 18 to 34, with 56 percent of this age group preferring live chat to phone support regardless of inquiry type, compared to 27 percent for those age 35 and over. Companies who offer live chat support can expect to receive better customer satisfaction results with younger consumers.