As 2014 ends, it’s time to examine what the year has brought to the customer service industry and what customer service trends and predictions are for 2015.
We have reached out to thought leaders, read about current trends and have come up with our fearless forecast for 2015:
1. Customers will expect more.
Customer service expert Shep Hyken has this to say about this trend, “Customers are more knowledgeable about customer service. They know what it is. They know the difference between good service and bad. They know what they want. As a result, customers are more demanding of a good customer service experience and many times will spend their money elsewhere, even if the price is higher. Service correlates to value that the customer will pay for.”
With social media playing a big role in customer service delivery, customers expect businesses to be able to cater to their needs and requests 24/7. Omnipresence in all channels, as stated by customer experience consultant and Forbes contributor Micah Solomon, will also continue to be a pressing demand that all businesses should step up to.
2. Mobile experience is the way to go.
Research shows that more than 50% of US adults now have a smartphone and 76% of the generation Z (the millenials) rely on their mobile devices for everything – including finding information about problems and its solutions and reaching out to customer service.
Customer service expert and industry analyst, Roy Atkinson, says that the customer service industry should expect that in 2015, “Mobile customer service and support–that is, mobile apps and contact methods such as text which take advantage of the features of mobile devices–will become increasingly important and prevalent. Organizations will start to take more advantage of mobile features such as location, direction, and proximity. We are already seeing the effects of mobile device payment methods.”
Customer-centric companies are on the right track on this as 84% of CIOs are now focusing on the mobile customer experience. Hyken also sees this trend happening as businesses make their web sites mobile-responsive, come out with apps for more customer engagement, use SMS (text messaging) and have dedicated social media customer service agents handling issues on social media channels.
Atkinson adds that “Customers will expect rapid response to questions or issues on social media, and, if your business is global, will expect those rapid responses within a time-frame that is good for them. This does create some problems for small to medium businesses which are not equipped to have a social customer service staff available 24/7. But social media is only one aspect of social support. Community-based and peer-to-peer support will continue to grow, especially as what has been called the “sharing economy” takes hold.”
3. Self-service solutions will become more popular.
While customers expect customer service delivery 24/7 with response times needing to be shorter, they also seek simpler interactions. Richard Shapiro says that response time has become just as important as the actual response. And this increasing demand will lead to businesses investing on self-service solutions according to Hyken.
Self-service solutions will allow businesses to complete a higher percentage of transactions via self-service while still making it a positive experience for their customers.
4. Businesses will invest more in customer experience.
It’s no secret that it is less expensive to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. However, Gartner discovered that in 2014, the cost of customer retention has been ramping up, with marketers spending almost as much to keep buyers (45%) as to acquiring new ones (55%).
Companies now realize that a better customer experience will improve customer satisfaction and has a snowball effect – it improves customer retention, develops brand loyalty and makes for great brand advocates.
Businesses will hire specialists that can help them develop a great customer experience strategy. Google Trends have reported an increase on the search for “customer experience jobs” to 40% from July 2013 to July 2014.
This is not surprising. Customer service delivery has become a multi-channel zone and customers expect integration to occur. When a customer asks a question through social media and follows up with an e-mail, he expects that his customer service issue is threaded and agents know his background immediately. Developing systems for this requires investment and training of agents.
Atkinson noted that in 2015, more companies (those that are paying attention) will learn to avoid disasters that hit Comcast and others, “some of those will learn to capitalize on the mistakes made by their competitors in terms of customer experience. This will be easier for smaller, more agile brands than for large ones. It all comes down to incentive: Large monolithic brands that have a large market share will be averse to changing anything.”
“If organizations do pay attention to the customer experience lessons learned in 2014 (both positive and negative), they can make some great strides in making their businesses better and more attractive to both new and repeat customers,” Atkinson adds.
5. Customer reviews and feedback are going to be more effective than any marketing strategy.
Consumers now have access to a wealth of information online. When he is interested in a product or service, the first thing he does is search for feedback online. Companies are acknowledging this behavior and will be working towards getting more positive feedback by doing the above-mentioned list for 2015.
“Companies are recognizing that customers have a loud voice. They can broadcast their experiences, both good and bad, via social media. Businesses are beginning to see the merit of a good customer experience. They get repeat business and word-of-mouth marketing. The goal will be to get problems taken care of properly and quickly with the hope to avoid a viral PR disaster,” notes Hyken.
Customer Service Delivery Needs to Be Customer Experience
Companies should know that while pricing on products and services is a great differentiator, customer service experience will provide a unique advantage on helping customers decide which business to cater to. Customers are smarter than ever; they would gladly go with you if they know customer experience continues after the transaction. Customer interaction is just starting once a sale is closed, making them feel relevant after is what will make them come back and let others know about how great your company is. That’s the best marketing you’ll do.
Nowadays, the traditional landline phone customer service that businesses have may not serve your customers well—considering that we’re living in the technology era. Having customer support in other types of network such as through online and mobile are some of the customer assistance services we have, which can take your entire customer service to a whole new level. Learn more!