Customer care is getting more personal but the leading trends emerging in 2016 indicate that smart machines may be key in driving the pursuit of individualized service.
Customer care from the traditional call center to web chat to social media options is being transformed almost daily by smarter technology. From an influx of connected devices to improved use of analytics, the consumer’s expectations of how, when and where they receive service from their preferred brands from smart phone providers to airlines is shifting.
These trends emerged in part from Xerox’s recent report on The State of Customer Service, a survey of over 6,000 consumers that found customer care interactions are growing increasingly important to customers, yet there is underlying dissatisfaction across sectors, locations and ages. While the trends are expected to make their appearance in 2016, they’re expected to continue for the next decade.
“It’s clear that the relationships between consumers and brands will change radically over the next five years,” said Tim Joyce, chief innovation officer, Xerox Customer Care. “Customers expect a high quality of service and technology is maturing to the point where brands can efficiently meet those needs.”
Social media support steps up:
Today, consumers have low expectations that they can have their problems solved by contacting their preferred brand via social media. In fact, less than 5 percent of support interactions across technology, telecommunications and media sector were conducted on via social channels – a number that indicates consumers don’t actually recognize their engagement with brands on social media as support interactions.
But social networks including Facebook and Twitter are working to make their platforms more useful for customer service purposes. Brands that embrace social customer care will see a positive impact on their overall brand satisfaction and improving their customers’ experience.
The Internet of Things enables ‘machine-to-machine’ customer care:
Consumers will soon be surrounded by connected devices that collect data, process the information and eventually analyze the knowledge. This transformation will make ‘machine-to-machine’ care a reality where customers don’t need to initiate their own service or upgrade. Instead, tools like Xerox’s own Virtual Agent within connected devices will hold conversations with each other, working to seamlessly correct issues perhaps before they even become apparent to the customer.
Wearable devices that will be connected to other machines will be important to the growth of this service. While only 6.3 percent of those surveyed by Xerox currently own a wearable device, the category is poised for accelerated adoption.
Brands become omnipresent:
Omnipresence is a distant, more refined cousin of omni channel. It is an admission that brands cannot be effective on every single channel, but can use advanced analytics to ensure presence in the places most aligned with their customers’ preferences.
The Xerox survey found brands will need to partner with service providers that have experience in a variety of channels and an underlying knowledge management technology that connects the dots, making each support interaction a part of the same, coherent conversation.
Customer care agent becomes a career:
The call center will change dramatically over the next decade due to the growth and adoption of automation. This shift will relieve professionally-trained agents of the transactional, repetitive interactions that dominate today’s call centers and allow them to become more emotionally invested in fewer customers who need the most support. With automated options addressing routine transactions, the customer care professional can focus on callers who require the judgment and empathy only an agent can provide.
Consumers are already comfortable with this shift. In fact, 41.6 % of those surveyed predict that by 2025, there will be no need to contact a call center.