Wow. What a year 2018 was for the customer service landscape. We waved goodbye to traditional channels like email and phone and fully embraced digital. By and large, digital interactions between brands and their customers have taken engagement to a totally new level. Forward-thinking brands are not afraid to keep up and go beyond shifting consumer preferences and this means embracing new technologies and trends to seamlessly engage with customers. At the forefront of this, social messaging burst onto the scene and is now leading the way for brand-consumer engagement. This, alongside the increasing use of dedicated customer service platforms for intelligent automation and AI has given a fresh face to the contact center.
Customer service really has got swept up in a digital transformation. But let's not forget, despite all these changes, once stripped back, the fundamentals of great customer service are still centered around convenient, effortless and in-channel resolution; and this core trio is likely to never change.
Moving forwards into 2019, as customer expectations continue to climb, the success of a brand will ultimately mean navigating the complex customer-centric marketplace! Customer service is an integral part of any brand, some may even say that it is the new marketing for winning customers over! So, with all this in mind, these are our top 6 stats and trends that are coming our way in 2019:
1) Interactions on private channels have grown by 900% - Conversocial
2) There are 4.1 billion active users on messaging apps - Business Insider
3) 79% of business leaders want WhatsApp as a service channel - Corinium
What is particularly exciting for 2019 will be the effect of WhatsApp and Apple Business Chat in the contact center. With 1.5 billion and 700 million users respectively, these emerging channels offer huge potential for brands to connect with customers on a more personal level. According to Corinium, customer service leaders recognize this, with research indicating that 96% are looking to implement Apple Business Chat and a further 79% saying WhatsApp is a channel priority in the next 12 months. The future of customer care is through social messaging channels and we are looking forward to helping our clients capitalize on these new channels in 2019 and beyond.
4) By 2025, 85% customer service interactions will be automated and it’s clear as to why - Ameyo
For chatbots, 2019 ushers in the year of maturity. Needless to say, there was a lot of hype around chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) last year, but this trend didn’t take off with the momentum that was expected. Teething problems aside, we predict that 2019 will mark the maturation for intelligent automation and bot-assisted resolution as brands figure out how to use them to add real value
Consumers expect end-to-end effortless customer service on the channel of their choice and leveraging the right technology creates a significant opportunity to differentiate your brand, an advantage which can only be fully tapped into with the use of chatbots. Done right, bot-augmented interactions can lower cost to serve, with CNBC predicting as much as $8 billion by 2022, whilst increasing operational efficiencies of a customer care team. A win-win for
5) 58% of consumers feel uncomfortable with non-human customer service interactions - Aspect
It is clear that bot-assisted customer service is yet to win over consumers. But, 2019 is the year to reinvent your customer service approach. Against the backdrop of the Automation Age, this is the year to not only tap into the bot advantage but also the power of the rising Empathy Economy－an economy which places human-centric empathy at the heart of customer service; an ability which AI lacks and can never truly replicate.
In 2019, as bots are increasingly introduced to the contact center, human attributes like genuine empathy, personal touches, and emotional intelligence will pull through as critical traits for any customer service team striving for success. As the Empathy Economy continues to take hold, simultaneously as the popularity of chatbots rise, to deliver an optimum customer experience, a hybrid collaboration between bots and highly skilled human agents is needed to ensure a sleek and successful handoff to improve the customer experience and drive retention. When coupled together, this tandem brings the best of both worlds: automation and speed from chatbots alongside an authentic and empathetic tone of voice from human customer service operatives. Granted, it does seem counterintuitive, but automation will play a critical role in humanizing the way a brand connects with their customers to make for a more satisfying and comfortable experience.
6) By 2021, 1.8 billion people will be using voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Home - Go-Gulf
Voice User Interfaces (VUI) have been a major development in technology and our future is full of touchless interfaces. Whether customers choose Alexa, Siri, or Google to read them the weather and play music, smart speakers have become a necessity in the homes and lifestyles of plenty. Gartner
"With new social messaging channels opening up for business (including Whatsapp and Apple Business Chat)and the rapid development of artificial intelligence, it’s becoming easier and easier to provide an effortless customer service experience without needing to just spend more money on agents. Consumers have changed; now it’s time for customer service to catch up."
2019 is the year of opportunity for forward-thinking brands wanting to differentiate their customer service operation. There is undeniably a plethora of advancements that are coming their way this year but at the forefront of these changes, it is AI and chatbots which will lead the charge and totally shake up digital customer service as we know it!
For more on the Future of Customer Service in the Era of Social Messaging read our recently published Definitive Guide to Customer Service.