Everything about the business world is rapidly evolving, ranging from the tools we use to connect to customers to how exactly those client interactions are going. Customer service trends are no different.
We’re very much living in a buyer’s market, where the client holds all the power and has the option to choose from so many different brands, no matter what it is that they need.
This has made customer service more important than ever before, setting brands apart and being a key part of customer loyalty. A customer is 4x more likely to buy from a competitor if they believe there’s an issue with customer service (more so than price or product-related issues), and an outstanding 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they’re treated by a brand.
If you want to stay on top of the competition, check out these 7 customer service trends that are driving success in 2019. They’ll give you a solid idea of what you need to be doing and where you should shift your attention moving forward.
1. Constant Accessibility is a Must
We’ve never lived in a more “right-now” time than we do today. You can actually order something on Amazon and have it delivered to your doorstep within six hours, and people have the same high expectations of the businesses they want to work with.
Instant availability — or as close to it as possible — is no longer considered exceptional; it’s considered almost standard customer service. Customers want to be able to shoot a brand’s Facebook Page a message and get a response almost instantly, or call and have the phone answered the first time around instead of being sent to voicemail.
Are these unreasonable standards? Maybe. But they’re also the standards that clients have. As a result, many businesses are taking advantage of qualified answering services like PATLive to pick up the slack, answering all calls after just a few rings so that your customers (and hopefully soon-to-be customers!) are all made to feel like a priority right off the bat.
2. Personalization is Key
All of your clients will be different, and all of their problems will likely be semi-unique, which means ideally your solutions for them will be, too. Because of this, personalization is a rapidly rising trend in customer service.
With personalization, your customer service agents are given more freedom and power, allowing them to solve problems on their own and with a less scripted approach. They’re no longer relegated to simply offering a 10% discount or money back under only the strictest circumstances; many are given full agency to handle issues on their own in the majority of cases, working with the client to find a solution that turns the situation around.
If you ever do hire a service like PATLive, our agents are able to do this, offering personalized service to each customer who calls your organization while still working within any constraints or regulations that you specify.
3. Companies Are Being Proactive
Authenticity and trust are huge issues right now; people don’t typically trust marketing messages much, knowing full well that brands are experts on spinning things their way.
One trend that’s emerging as a response is the proactive approach some companies are taking in regards to addressing issues customers may experience. They’re reaching out to their communities and their clients first, before many have even had a chance to complain, showing that they care and explaining steps they’ve taken to address the issue.
My invoicing software did this just a few weeks ago after the system shut down for a full day due to server issues. They sent an email apologizing, explaining what the problem was, and assuring their clients of their dedication to doing better.
When you put yourself in front of a problem right away, customers see that you’re making their experience a priority. That’s important.
4. Customer Service Is a Core Brand Identifier
Right now, whether or not your customers believe that they’ll have great customer service will actually determine whether or not they purchase from you or someone else. This makes sense; when brands like Zappos have revolutionized customer service, no one wants to work with a company that doesn’t care about their customers.
Because of this, so many brands are featuring customer service as a core part of their brand, allowing it to influence and define their brand identity. Again, think Zappos here; you can find everything on that site somewhere else and probably for cheaper, but people keep going to Zappos because of the customer service. It’s also why so many customers read reviews looking for information about customer support and are immediately turned off when there are negative reviews.
Consider working this into your branding, and at the very least make it a core factor in what your business is all about.
5. Self-Help Is Increasing In Popularity
Earlier in this post, we talked about how immediacy is now a standard expectation. It’s a requirement instead of a way to excel.
Because of this, brands are increasingly turning to self-help options for their clients, trying to make it easier for people to find answers to simple questions that they get over and over again on the site. This may include extensive FAQs that are listed under “help desk support,” answering everything from “What should I do if I need to cancel my order?” or “I got logged out of the app… now what?” You can see a great example of this from Uber here.
Ticket deflection keeps the emails from piling in and the voicemails from stacking up when they’re not needed, and customers are happy to be able to quickly find the answers they need with truly no wait. Then, when this first line of defense fails, having immediately-available live chat and answering service agents ready to go can do the rest.
6. Omnichannel Customer Service is Standard
We’ve hinted at this above, but customers are increasingly turning to different points of contact to get in touch with a business.
For fast answers or basic questions, they’re turning increasingly to live chat options on brands’ websites. This is convenient, can be done from anywhere, and allows them to multitask without ever picking up the phone. For urgent questions or issues those that involve sensitive information, however, customers are much more likely to get in touch by calling. Read more about live chat and answering services working together here.
It’s important to ensure that you’re able to deliver customer service wherever your clients need it. If you have a Facebook Page or an email option on your site, don’t neglect it just because you’re getting calls; every single client should get prompt responses, no matter the platform. Similarly, don’t fall into the trap of “they’ll leave a voicemail if it’s important,” because many customers won’t.
Outsourcing or consolidating some of your customer service can help with this. Answering services can help with the influx of calls, and using live chat consolidation software will help your team stay on top of all the messages coming in so that no one slips between the cracks.
7. More Agents Are Remote
Long gone are the days when your customer service team needed to be in-office to be able to deliver a great experience to your clients. Increasing numbers of customer service agents are working completely remotely, and another growing percentage is the amount of customer service work being outsourced to agencies entirely.
If you have doubts about outsourcing any of your customer service work, don’t. Qualified answering services like PATLive will learn the ins and outs of your business so we can help your customers as well as you do, and following all regulations your brand has established.
And as for your in-house team, there’s no reason not to let them have a few work from home days if that’s something that you need. Simply make sure that they’re able to consistently work in a quiet area with good cell service (if answering calls) and a strong internet connection (see: live chat). If that’s possible, full steam ahead!
Customer service is evolving, and with such a big emphasis on ensuring the absolute best customer experience, it’s essential to keep up with the trends.
Right now, the biggest focus across the board is simply on making sure that you can consistently help customers how they need it most. This includes meeting them where they are, treating them (and their problems) as individuals worthy of your attention, and finding new ways to streamline the process for everyone involved.
While this is more work for brands, the right tools and agencies can help, and ultimately it benefits everyone in the long run by aiding your relationship with your clients and holding you accountable to the best standards possible.
Interested in learning more about how PATLive can help you stay on top of customer service trends? Check out what we can do for you here.