11 May 2023
What Does the Future Hold for Customer Service?
Customer service via a website chat tool is evolving at such a pace, but what are the trends we will see in the coming years, in terms of the technical and human sides of the equation?
Customer service is an entity that keeps evolving, and this is partly based on the rapid rate we see technology developing. Here are some of the ways we think tech will transform the customer service landscape and what it will mean for customer-facing businesses.
Real-Time Messaging Will Take Over Email
While email will never disappear because businesses are expected to be 24/7, customers will demand instant answers. Trends have shown that customers prefer to interact via live chat instead of email or phone, and real-time messaging platforms might hold the key, as long as they respond in real-time and are authentic.
Typical companies aim to provide a 24-hour turnaround when responding to emails, and this is where a website chat tool can provide a lot more peace of mind to the customer. While it may be impossible to provide 24/7 real-life customer assistance, a chatbot can bring a balance for businesses while also ensuring companies are financially sustainable.
More Video Assistance
We are all more aware of the power of face-to-face communication since the pandemic. In customer service, we are expected to provide an omnichannel experience, and customers are looking for ways to interact in ways that suit them. Omnichannel support, where a customer can get a response, whether it's via email, on social media, on their website, or over the telephone will provide greater consistency across the board.
This reduces friction because customers don't have to log off one platform to find another, but it also means customers can use their preferred method of communication, which is why face-to-face video communication looks likely to increase over the coming years. Face-to-face communication can improve relationships and can be utilised as a viable business tool to provide honest and authentic customer support, making it a key component over the next few years.
AI Will Be an Invaluable Tool
So many people have concerns about AI, and at the time of writing, there has been a greater demand to police AI for a number of reasons including potential bias in its responses and concerns it will replace human help. Bots and AI are not going to replace professionals, but in fact, will be amazing tools.
Businesses that use a website chat tool can maximise their customer service output by setting up a chatbot for a number of reasons. Customer service queries tend to comprise the same types of issues the vast majority of the time, so why not use a tool that can automate the same old responses so customer service agents can deal with other specialised queries?
Chatbots can also be a great way to improve self-service when customer service agents are not available, but humans will never be replaced because they will be the bridge that provides customer resolution. While tools like ChatGPT have caused a lot of concern, it is not going to replace real human help, but AI will become a part of customer support teams, and much like chatbots right now, it will help companies to work smarter.
As chatbots and AI are being used for the purpose of deflecting the use of live agents so customer representatives can concentrate their resources appropriately, we will see an increase in a combination of self-service and live agent deflection equally, such as via an increase in content on websites.
FAQ pages have been used to help customers find what they want, but as customers grow impatient trawling through web pages, there will be a migration avoiding FAQs and guides to using chatbots to find a better resolution by pairing the bots with links to multimedia content. Customers are changing their approach to interacting with websites rapidly due to AI improving search engine results and voice search. As they demand an omnichannel experience, they are also expecting more self-service options than ever.
There are a number of tools businesses can provide for their customers, from FAQs to online discussion forums or virtual assistants, and businesses are embracing self-service to reduce their costs, but they are also creating more sophisticated methods of improving the customer experience. However, doing this properly involves creating a knowledge base that answers all common customer queries without the need of being talked through by the customer service agent.
The Rise of Social Media as a Customer Service Tool
We've already seen how social media can direct customers back to the organisation if there's a problem. Many customers think nothing of engaging via Facebook or Twitter to publicly lambast a business, but to improve customer resolutions, companies will need to adapt their social media accounts to manage these spontaneous interactions and make it a more suitable forum for customers to submit feedback. It is a pivotal part of the customer service experience to engage people on their own turf, social media will be a key denominator going forward.
A Better Customer Service Representative
While this last point is not technologically-based, technology is directly influencing customer service representatives to become better in their roles. The way it used to be, a great customer service agent would need to have a wealth of experience and knowledge to do their job properly. But with new technology to automate the customer service experience, improve self-service, and provide answers way before a consumer reaches a customer service agent, that agent is the last port of call.
They are there to solve the customers’ needs, but they will be able to do it with fewer speed bumps in their workflow, like having to access a specific file buried deep within a hard drive. As they will be able to do their job easier, they will be able to do their job better.
There is a human aspect that underpins every aspect of customer service. Any website chat tool can take a customer to a chatbot, but the customer needs to feel secure in the knowledge that there is real human help at the very end of the line if their queries go unanswered. The fact is that while technology will improve, there will always be human support.