customer-service-trnds

5 Trends in Customer Service for 2014

Written by on January 5, 2014

You can feel it. The role and nature of customer service is changing. Looking back on 2013 we have seen the continued evolution of customer service to meet the demands of 21st century consumers. The maturing of social channels combined with the adaptation of traditional channels is creating a multichannel experience full of promise but creating challenges for customer service organizations.

So what does the new year have in store for us? Here are 5 trends in customer service for 2014:

Real-Time To Right Time

The focus of customer service, particularly in social media, moves from real-time to right time. While tools and process will continue to deliver efficiency and value, the challenges of scale will be difficult for most businesses and organizations. The key then becomes communication and managing expectations. Successful customer service organizations will be those that set, communicate AND meet expectations rather then letting their customers set the expectations for them.

Customer Service As A Marketing Opportunity

We will see a focus on integrating customer service data into overall market research and customer experience. It’s not about Big Data, but correlating data that helps to give us a better view of the customer. Customer service activity, community forums and knowledge bases will be moved out of the back rooms to be a more integral piece of the puzzle. The edge will go to the companies that can effectively mine their data and find value, whether it’s in an improved customer experience or as a feedback loop to product development and marketing strategy.

Bonus: It’s also about helping your customers find you. Google’s new Hummingbird update has tipped the scales in favor of the user rather than the keyword, which brings greater value to your knowledge bases and community forums

Multichannel To Customer-centric

There was a time when it was enough to have a toll-free phone number as a single channel for customer service. The focus will now be on the  evolution of the integrated multi-channel customer service experience. That’s a complicated way of saying customer service organizations will need to more strongly consider the customer view. A customer may initiate an interaction on social media but expect a unified, integrated experience as the conversation moves through email, web, voice and any other channels.

Mobile Apps Will Have Support Buttons

Customers are less likely to go to channels for support and more likely to expect support to come to them. For mobile apps,  having a support button inside will be table stakes.  And hardware device vendors will start to incorporate a support button in their devices. Amazon set the bar by putting a “mayday” button in Kindle Fire.  

Gamification And Beyond

A big part of the customer service experience is the interaction between customers and customer service agents. As much as customer service organizations focus on the “customer experience” they will focus inwardly on the “agent experience.” Customer service organizations will increase adoption of Gamification and other techniques to improve agent morale

Whether your business is B2B or B2C, in the end customer service often boils down to P2P — Person-to-Person. There will be an increased focus on the productivity and effectiveness of customer support agents — looking to reduce the friction at the point of contact. Happy, motivated customer service agents provide better support and a better customer experience. 

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  • Ettie Shapiro

    Gamification is so interesting. It’s the updated version of the way your treat your staff is the way they treat your customers.

    • Alan Berkson

      Thanks Ettie. You hit the nail on the head. Make sure your employees are happy and they will make sure your customers are happy.

  • Alan,

    Great post! I’d like to add one point about personalization. One of the trends in technology is moving towards individual personas rather than a statistical approach. So, for example, your banks security software won’t compare your transactions to everybody else’s, but to your own activity.

    I was recently talking to the head of innovation at IBM and he stressed that this is where a lot of their work in big data/machine learning is headed.

    – Greg

    • Alan Berkson

      Thanks, Greg. I agree, The whole idea of a “demographic” is being redefined.

  • I love these new year predictions, and I occasionally go back a year to see how well the writer predicted. Usually, the answer is the predictions are wrong, so let’s come back a year from now. Customer service as marketing is actually here now, and has been for years, which is why customer service is often dictated by marketing, to the detriment of service quality. Gamification for staff morale? Some may try, and the end result will be the realization that it doesn’t work, and it’s a band-aid, that doesn’t address the root causes of turnover and low morale.

    My take.
    Robert Bacal
    http://customerservice zone.

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