It seems like a long time has passed since social burst onto the customer service scene, primarily as an escalation channel. The last few years have seen social evolve to consolidate its rightful place within the contact center. It has now established firm roots as a viable and mature service pathway. For many, particularly millennials, social is the first port of call when it comes to seeking customer support. As the mantra goes, #SocialFirst really is an approach that brands should by now, be aligned with—your customers are already there, so should you!
But where are we now? Another year and another Definitive Guide.
However, the landscape of social customer service remains incredibly dynamic. It is in a state of continuous change as platforms vie for users, one upping each other to prove themselves as reliable go-to care channels. As a result, the need of the consumer, when it comes to customer care, is constantly evolving. Consumers actively seek the most efficient, real-time pathway to resolution when it comes to getting answers to their questions and queries.
For contact centers, there has been a notable shift in the way that consumers are choosing to interact with brands. This means that the future landscape of customer care looks totally different to how it did this time last year. Conversocial’s 5th Definitive Guide delves into the future of digital customer service amidst this change. With this in mind, it’s time to sit back and explore how social customer care has grown up over the past year.
It’s all about Messaging!
The above title pretty much gives it away. That’s right. Over the past year, the most prominent breakthrough trend in customer service has to be the proliferation in private social messaging as a care channel.
When it comes to customer support, consumers are now turning towards social messaging channels before any other channel—and rightly so. It gives a faster, private and more direct engagement than public venting. A Conversocial survey found that 54.4% of respondents prefer to use messaging channels, rather than legacy channels, to communicate with brands. The forecast of digital customer service looks like it is set to be one dominated by private messaging platforms such as Messenger, Twitter DM, SMS and WhatsApp. Customers turn to these channels because they’re far more easy and convenient than traditional channels like phone and email. It makes sense. Consumers are already talking to their friends in these channels so why shouldn't they also be able to talk to their favorite brands here also? Messaging is primed as the winner when it comes to customer support. It is built on the core structure of being:
- Connected to smartphone notifications
The future of customer care looks set to be led by messaging as the favored support channel!
Bots and AI: Human AND Machine
The need for speed rings true when it comes to digital customer service. Increasingly, companies are experimenting with ways to introduce AI (Artificial Intelligence) and bots into their contact centers to help scale incoming volumes and monotonous inquiries. Bot-programmed resolution can significantly speed up interactions for both the agent and customer!
The thought of automation in customer care is generally met with negative sentiment. It is understandable as to why! Previously, bot-programmed resolution was used purely for increasing efficiency of the brand in the contact center but at the high cost of the customer. In The Age of The Customer, however, the tides have turned and customer service teams should have the sole purpose of ensuring every interaction is seamless and convenient for every consumer that comes their way. Customers are empowered. They expect high-value and consistent digital experiences. If this can't be provided, they go elsewhere.
For a brand to deliver an optimum customer experience, a collaboration between bot an agent is needed to ensure a sleek and successful handoff. Coupled together, this brings the best of both worlds—automation and speed from bots alongside an authentic and empathetic tone of voice from human customer service operatives. It is not a case of man vs. machine. Instead, a narrative should unfold around the contact center based around a harmonious collaboration of man AND machine to deliver the most genuine and efficient service that your customers are craving.
Armour up your customer care team with the right agents
It is no secret that a great customer care team is your secret weapon when it comes to efficiently serving your customers. As the landscape of customer service changes, it is becoming clearer that the contact center is set to become a hybrid hive—a pioneering setting for the collaboration of bots and humans. With this in mind though, brands will most likely see a shift in their service model. A move away from large customer service teams, towards a niche set of highly trained agents.
With most service volumes coming through messaging channels, most customer engagements in future will be supported by AI and bot-programmed automation. Bots will be on the frontline, acting as infantry in the battle to wade through the surges of incoming social messaging volumes. Agents are more likely to be seen as the ‘reserves.’ Their assistance will only be called upon when it comes to escalating an issue that needs direct, human attention. As a result of this, customer service teams of the future will need to be highly skilled and be able to efficiently deliver resolution through social messaging—it will be essential to recruit and train the right social customer service agents.
Agents of the future will be given more freedom to craft their own responses to customer queries and questions due to their high-level understanding of customer service issues and training to deal with issues. The result will be a more effortless experience for customers—driving loyalty, brand advocacy and a seamless service all with reduced service costs.
So, there you have it. The roundup of this year’s highlights from our latest Definitive Guide (there is a lot more to the guide though)!
Read our latest copy of the Definitive Guide to Social, Digital Customer Service to help you overcome common, social customer care challenges to become a paradigm of effortless, in-the-moment social customer service, at scale.