The Future of Customer Support – 5 Insights From the Cutting Edge
As our world becomes hyper-connected and e-commerce blurs the lines between geographical markets, customer support is facing a paradigm shift in the way it has structured its business processes and its approach to technology.
Projected to hit $4.9 trillion by 2021, the global eCommerce market has been showing steady growth year after year. As our world becomes hyper-connected and e-commerce blurs the lines between geographical markets, customer support is facing a paradigm shift in the way it has structured its business processes and its approach to technology.
Agents Republic welcomes the paradigm shift, and we boldly stand at the forefront of the new era of customer support. But which radical changes are afoot? In this article we’ll discuss 5 key points which are not just theories about the future, but budding technological developments that need to happen to make customer support future proof.
1. Globalization is unstoppable – let’s embrace it
Gone are the days of google translating obscure pages in foreign languages to find hard-to-source items. With online marketplaces like Amazon, Ebay and AliExpress, the world is quite literally at your fingertips. As the explosive year-over-year growth shows that this is exactly what consumers want, the customer support industry is lagging to keep up with the changing landscape.
As the customer support experience is paramount to grow your business, when we take into account that 77% of customers would recommend a company to a friend if they have a positive experience. The biggest factor in cross-border customer service is the quality and availability. Luckily, there are companies like Agents Republic that offer a one-stop-shop solution for global customer service needs.
2. Cloud-Based is a Necessity, Not an Option
In tandem with point 1, expanding your company to foreign markets with all the services, including localized customer service, means rapidly scaling up your CS department is a prerequisite. So it’s no surprise that companies prefer to outsource customer support, when there are a number of economically valid reasons to do so.
In short, when we discuss the logistics of secure high-quality, 24/7 and localized customer support to global markets, it’s clear that contracting local customer support providers individually is not an option from a business perspective. For SMB and mid-market companies, the overhead of sourcing, organizing and managing each individual country can pull down the bottom line. Luckily, cloud-based customer support providers are at the forefront of this new trend which is quickly becoming an industry standard.
3. Your Customer is Mobile, so You Should be Too
It’s a fact that smartphones have changed our lives. From asking Siri for directions, to telling Google to find the nearest gas station, smartphones are indispensable tools of our increasingly technologically augmented life. Subsequently most businesses have already made their websites mobile friendly, but does it stop there? Because according to Google’s research, customers have twice as much interaction with a brand on their phones than anywhere else, including traditional marketing avenues.
As a result of this development, customers demand to have interactions with companies on their own terms and favorite apps – and this doesn’t just mean a chat pop-up on the site. What about Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook, and Twitter as customer service channels? With all the possibilities out there, the complexity of customer service channels has multiplied beyond traditional email. Omni-channel customer service is the key, but it means that companies need to be in tune with their markets and have the expertise to shift their resources from one channel to another when demand rises.
4. AI Boosts Automation – When Done Right
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Big Data – what ever happened to good old-fashioned customer service by phone? As the potential of AI and Machine Learning in other areas than science is coming to light with each passing day, our eyes turn to the customer service industry too. What can AI and Machine Learning add to the customer service experience, and more importantly, what benefit will it bring the company?
AI Chatbots are already taking over the first contact with customers seeking answers – but despite the speed they offer, the simplistic and unhelpful customer service experience they offer right now means that the majority of customers still prefer to speak to a human. One sticking point for AI and ML is the procurement of data – as such AI Data Services are high in demand. Once the data sets for AI chatbots and IVR reach enough volume to generate meaningful customer support, companies will be able to save on their CSX departments by automation.
5. The Robots Are Coming, but Culture Trumps AI
If you’re a customer service professional, don’t let point 4 scare you. AI still has a long road in front of it, before it can truly replace real human contact. Think of it this way: AI is there to automate the recurring, tedious inquiries, paving the way for customer service professionals to spend their time where it really matters: genuine, human relationships with customers. When it comes to servicing customers, the AI can handle the speed, but the quality comes from human interactions. And customer service is an important factor for loyalty according to 96% of customers, in a recent survey by Microsoft.
Happy employees = happy customers. Don’t just take our word for it, there are extensive studies on this subject. This means that beyond your bottom line, your company culture and employee happiness are the gateway to happy customers. But how do you make sure the employees are happy when you outsource your customer service? By making sure that the service provider you chose places value, and can demonstrate, a high focus on employee satisfaction. Things like working from home, coaching for employees, and reviews by the employees are not just PR statements, but an actual reflection of the company culture itself.
What Else is in Store for Customer Service?
One of the most exciting things about customer service is that it’s always evolving. The new wave of customer service providers are already embracing technological advances by having their employees work from home and utilizing the benefits of AI and ML, but there is much more on the horizon. IVR and VoIP are just two examples of technologies that are highly valuable to the CS industry – but yet woefully underserved. Blockchain has an enormous potential to change customer experience to bring fast and transparent payments in the future, enabling customer service managers to have more time focusing on human values. A not so dreamy glance of the future will reveal accurate sentiment AIs that not only handle your inquiry, but also know when to hand the matter over to a human; or even better, handle it themselves. The potential is endless, and we can’t wait to see it fulfilled.
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5 key takeaways
Go global – cross border eCommerce means multilingual/timezone support
Mobile means hybrid (multi channel) support – proactive approach
Rapid scaling is a necessity, not an option
AI will augment customer support to focus on human relationships
Robots are not coming for your job – Culture still trumps AI
AI and Machine Learning are becoming a staple in the IT industry, with surprising industries seeking advantages with this exciting field of automation. One of these industries with a constant focus on productivity improvement and automation is the call centre industry. Tech giants are taking their own in-house steps towards automating this labor-heavy market, but how do robots and people work together in a field where 79% of customers still prefer to speak to a human being?
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