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Latest 05 Feb 2019 | Bots

7 Customer Experience Truths in 2019

A new year is upon us, and that means it’s time to take a good, hard look at what worked, what didn’t, and what to expect in the near future of customer service.

Beyond the top statistics and trends, here are seven of our past predictions that proven true.

1. Messaging support is the new normal 

We hate to break it to you, but if you don’t offer messaging support in 2019, you’re very late to the party. According to research from Statista, over 2.87 billion consumers worldwide own a smartphone and 54 percent of them prefer social messaging over any other support medium.

Messaging support isn’t unique to any one industry, either. But it’s now common practice in travel and retail specifically. Airlines such Volaris have largely adopted easy-to-use messenger booking functions.

As consumers become accustomed to doing just about everything – from hailing a ride to adjusting the lights at home to finding a potential romantic partner – from their phones, the ability to talk with a brand’s support agent on a mobile device is standard, and it’s absence, irksome.

 

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2. AI and chatbots make humans more human 

Thanks to a recent trends report by Forbes, we know that AI is the foundation of most other emerging technologies. A common misconception of the past was that AI is out to replace humans entirely. We know that’s not the case: AI and chatbots only enhance humans’ humanity when used to the best of their abilities.

When paired with agents, chatbots can resolve simple inquiries and direct complex ones to human counterparts. This reduces support costs by using humans more sparingly, but increases support quality by freeing them up to deal with thornier issues. In years past, chatbots were experiments. This year, they’re a staple of good support.

3. Not only is good CX expected, it's a high-yield investment 

A key component of excellent CX is agility. Does your infrastructure allow you to pivot to serve customers? If not, you’re missing out on a core method by which companies now compete. These days, for example, there’s plenty of talk of the importance of “frictionless” or “seamless” pivot-style CX, but what does that really mean? Defining and creating your unique CX should be a priority for everyone on your team as it’s one of the first things your customers notice and deeply impacts their loyalty.

No employee is above CX knowledge. Take Amazon’s VP of logistics, who does ride-alongs with delivery drivers at all hours to get first-person feedback. This year, if support leaders aren’t getting personal with customers, they’re missing out.

4. Customers have zero time for bullshit 

Earlier this year, we talked about the rise of the bullshit proof customer, and we mean just that. Customers are running the show these days, and they’re tired of automated, half-hearted apologies that brands offer as band-aids to bigger problems. After all, 84 percent of customers just want their problem solved as quickly as easily as possible.

When a customer on the phone hears an automated “Your call is very important to us” message every couple of minutes, they’re not very likely to believe it. It’s time to stop offering bad apologies and provide customers the support they expect.

In years past, chatbots were experiments. This year, they’re a staple of good support.

5. Touchless interfaces and distributed commerce have made support more complicated

Touchless interfaces have skyrocketed in popularity over the past year. One in six Americans now own a smart speaker, and 30 percent report that it’s taking over time they used to spend watching TV. But with new technology comes new support requirements, and agents must adapt as messaging apps connect with voice user interface (VUI) to provide reliable voice-activated support.

6. Support reps need to be multitaskers 

If there’s anything the market has taught us lately, it’s that in order to meet customer needs, companies are getting very good at multitasking. Take Amazon, for example. The e-retailer has expanded into cloud storage, movie production, and news. Cable companies like AT&T and Comcast are getting into the TV business.

It’s no longer enough for companies to just sell a product anymore; They must also become many-armed media brands with a clear voice and something new to say. That puts demand on support agents who must be more knowledgeable than ever, and able to answer questions on all manner of loosely related inquiries.

7. Concerns about data ethics are fueling better service 

Loyalty programs are, of course, designed to foster customer loyalty, but they only work when companies prove that they’re loyal to their clientele in return. The airline AEGEAN found this out first-hand when the team realized it could use a CRM integration to find out who their frequent fliers were on social channels, and combine this knowledge into an effective social service platform that allowed them to provide quick, comprehensive support to their already loyal customer base. This year, expect to see more companies moving from GDPR-paralysis to savvy use of customer data with their customers’ cheerful permission.

For more on the Future of Customer Service in the Era of Social Messaging read our recently published Definitive Guide to Customer Service.

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