Expert Opinion: Top 3 Customer Support Trends to look for in 2018

customer support software

Improving customer support has become more important than ever, given the never-ceasing expectations of customers.

As leading researchers indicate that organizations lose about $62 million every year due to poor customer service, you can’t expect any good with an average customer support. No matter how great your product your service is, you can’t sustain market competition without a top of the line customer service.

As 2017 is coming to an end, here’re 3 customer support trends that promise a better customer support in 2018. Take a look. 

1. Mike Wittenstein
mike wittenstein

  • Faster Responses
    Responding faster when customers raise their hands for help does several things for the business. It keeps customer satisfaction up, cuts handling costs, and helps.
  • Multiple Uses
    Smart companies are using customer support moments to create experiences, solve problems, and learn more about customers’ needs. Yes, customer experience extends to service! Using each connection with customers for multiple purposes (without annoying anyone), speeds research and service at reduced cost.
  • Tech That Supports Reps
    If you can’t afford the time, risk, or cost of putting technology in front of customers, give it to your front-line reps. With better tech and information, they can provide better support faster. Customers will love it and you will learn what features you need to offer when you offer more self-service tech directly to your customers.

2. Justin Flitter

Justin Flitter

  • First response and FAQs will become increasingly automated with Chatbots. This will speed up initial interaction and response time and enable triage to humans when required.
  • Support channels will increasingly enable customers to submit queries through text, voice or video, using Artificial Intelligence like Natural Language Processing to convert, translate or triage based on topics, emotions and other key criteria.
  • More than ever before is the importance of front-line empowerment. Staff must be knowledgeable, skilled, confident and equipped to solve customer inquiries first and fast.

3. Bill Quiseng

Bill Quiseng

  • Social customer service. Companies will need to embrace even more than they should be wherever their customers are talking about them and will need to be listening. Toll-free numbers, website "Contact Us" messages and live chat will not be enough. Social platforms will need to be monitored to respond promptly to concerns and complaints that may not even be directed to them but may be simply a customer venting.
  • Internal silo busting. All departments must have the same access to customer information and contact history. Sales should not be asking the customer during a check-in call, "So how is everything?" when the customer has already called support several times. Databases will need to be more robust to capture all communication between an individual customer and company.
  • Mind-reading personalization. Customers do not rate customer support based solely on interactions with that company. Instead, they base it on interactions they have with any business, whether it is the local eatery where the server remembers a customer's favorite beverage or Amazon with its pitch of potentially preferred items. So companies will have to step up their game to be mind readers, looking at past history to support customers in a way that is meaningful to them.

4. Colin Taylor

Colin Taylor

  • Omnichannel- I think that 2018 will be the year that Omnichannel becomes a reality for many customer support centers. The increasing number of cloud-based services that can support omnichannel has reduced the cost of entry and deeper integration with CRM and similar platforms mean that real-time information can now be employed to support live channel switching and migration, a key building block to true omnichannel service.
  • Video services will continue to increase and become mainstream. Video can enable easier customer authentication, increased emotional connections to customers, provide insight into technical support challenges and allows for more interactive services. Banks are already deploying ITM’s (Interactive Teller Machines), high-end automakers like Land Rover and Jaguar are employing video as are government agencies are offering solutions such as video chat at DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) in Dubai. Web RTC the underlying enabling technology is increasingly available in SaaS and CCaaS solutions eliminating barriers to deployment.
  • The shift to self-service will accelerate. Simple straightforward calls and contacts will increasingly be served by self-service solutions including, mobile, web, IVR and chatbots etc. This shift of ‘easy’ calls to self-service, will leave the remaining contacts as challenging and difficult. The agent skill and proficiency requirements to effectively manage these contacts will eliminate many agents who may be working in contact centers. This shift is also likely to see wages rise for these ‘super-agents', and training and skill development budgets increase, as organizations respond to the need for enhanced skills and capabilities to solve advanced and complex customer challenges.

5. Jonathan Bryant
Jonathan Bryant

  • Efficiency - we're busy, and we want to shorten how we respond
  • Personalization - user experience is important, and we have an obligation to make customer support directed TO the individual and their concern.
  • Automation - while it's the opposite direction we take, a lot of businesses will turn to AI and outsourcing to automate their customer support. While it will work for some, it will be a difficult lesson learned by others, one that will cost them customer loyalty.

6.  Shaun Belding

Shaun Belding

I can't think of a profession that has seen more dramatic and continual change over the last 20 years than customer support – and there's no end in sight. The experience that was good enough two years ago isn't good enough today. And what is good enough today will be archaic in two years. Here are three things we should be watching for in 2018.

  • Heightened Expectations... and Disappointment
    Whether the interaction is by phone, live chat, email or in-person, the already high level of consumer expectations will continue to grow. We’ll expect even faster resolutions, more pleasant interactions and more knowledgeable support teams.
  • Enter the AI Chatbot, a technology is still in its relative infancy.
    Like IVR in the late 1990's, chatbots are the new bright, shiny object. Early adopters are jumping on board under the allure of dramatically reduced customer support costs. Customers will hardly notice, right? Sure. That's what early adopters of IVR thought too. Look for steadily increasing consumer pushback as more companies bring chatbots online. Frustration will mount as well-intended bots misinterpret questions and try to deal with complex issues. Does anybody remember “I’m sorry you’re having problems, please try again later *click*.” Hopefully, companies will respond to this faster and better than they did with IVR.
  • Increased Segmentation
    Despite powerful knowledge-bases and other tools that empowered support professionals to deal with a broad range of things, a lot of people are starting to hit a wall. Technology or no technology, there are only so many learning curves that can be tackled in a short period of time. IoT on its own will be representing hundreds, if not thousands of such curves. To deal with this, more and more organizations are going back to segmenting their support teams - each with specific areas of expertise. Generalists will still have a very important place but, as things increase in complexity, look for this trend to accelerate.
  • Language Skills
    The science tells us that an individual's willingness to own a customer issue and the ability to resolve it positively are the two main factors to creating positive word-of-mouth.* The ability to communicate gracefully, positively and persuasively plays a huge role in this. "gone r dayz of tec-sup talk." Also gone are the days of heavy scripting and bored tones of voice. Customer support is more the voice and face of the company than ever before. All it takes is one customer support agent having a bad day and a customer hitting ‘print screen’ or ‘record’ to create a negative experience shared by thousands.

7. Ginger Conlon

ginger conlon

  • A continuation of the interest in and adoption of a greater focus on customer experience. This will translate into more companies using customer-centric measures to track their customer support team's performance, investing in more training on customer-centric interactions, and an increase in investments in technologies that help customer support agents resolve customers' issues in the first contact.
  • An increase in interest and investments in emerging technologies, such as chatbots, that help to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of providing top-notch yet cost-effective customer support. Along with this will be a greater focus on providing mobile-based support interactions.
  • A continuation of the interest in and adoption of a greater focus on employee engagement. This will translate into more companies providing agents with the information and tools they need to resolve customers' issues without escalation, as well as investing in more training and career development.

8. William Goddard

William Goddard

Technology will become more present in the lifecycle of a customer service agents day to day job. We are at the beginning of what I see as the first step in automating as much as possible to reduce headcount and maintain a consistent experience. Companies like ServiceNow, AskSpoke, Neva, and Espressive are some to watch. Here are the 3 trends that will start impacting Customer Support in 2018.

  • Artificial Intelligence - AI is already becoming a hot button in the service industry. AI is being leveraged to handle initial triage in IT support and auto-routing of requests based on entire text and not just a tag or filter.
  • Chat Bots - Autoresponders and programmable interactions leveraging AI and natural language technology will be used more and more at the front line to allow organizations to scale their web support capabilities, reduce costs and collect more data for usage.
  • Automated self-service - The age of the consumer is creating many challenges for the more traditional support organizations taking requests via phone or email. The consumer has expectations of experience and forward-thinking companies will deploy technology that enables this experience. Think Amazon, Walmart or your favorite music download site.

9. Ian Golding

Ian Golding

  • Restoring trust – 2017 has seen more examples of organizations continuing to fail to meet basic customer expectations. In Europe, the Ryanair debacle is the most prominent case of all. In 2018, all brands across all industries are going to have to work hard to restore trust with the everyday consumer.
  • Value for Money – we live in a world where disposable incomes continue to be challenged on an annual basis. Consumers will continue to look for brands that offer the best value for money for the ‘end to end’ experience. That includes how much it costs to deal with things when they go wrong.
  • Honesty and transparency – the brands that continue to do what is right for their customer, when things go right and wrong, are the brands that will continue to flourish in 2018 and beyond.

Take Away

To excel in customer support, you can no longer rely on conventional channels such as phone and emails. Customers demand instant resolutions to their concerns and leveraging techniques such as live chat, instant messaging services, AI chatbots and Knowledge base can help you achieve the objective. The best part, applying these techniques don’t require any technical expertise or coding knowledge and you can rest assured about a top-of-the-line customer service.

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