The Future of Customer Service Technology: 5 Key Trends
As the customer service industry evolves, customers are increasingly expecting flawless customer service from companies.
56% of customers have stopped buying from a brand or switched to a competitor because of a single bad experience.1 For American consumers, that number jumps to a whopping 69%.
If you want to meet this increasing demand for perfection, “hiring the right people” isn’t enough. You must also adopt new customer service technology to not just meet these baseline customer expectations, but exceed them.
In this article, we’ll explore what customer service technology is, emerging trends, and the tools you can use to win customer loyalty in 2021 and beyond.
What is customer service technology?
Customer service technology is a range of software and hardware solutions that improve the customer experience and empower your agents to deliver better support.
Companies can use a range of different tools both on the customer side and internally, on the agent side.
- Self-service customer portal: A digital knowledge base where customers can find answers to their questions and issues.
- Chatbots: Help customers get common questions (like service hours, return policies) answered in seconds from any page on your website or app.
- IVR: Interactive Voice Response helps your customers contact the right department when calling your contact center.
- Internal knowledge management: A private knowledge base to help reps maintain a consistent level of customer service.
- Customer service software: Help desk software helps manage incoming support tickets from various channels, including email, voice, social media, and chat.
- AI-powered automations: Speed up common requests with AI-powered workflows like selecting from recommended replies, highlighting tutorials, and more.
A closer look at the role of technology in customer service
As customer experience becomes the difference between keeping or losing customers, companies are increasingly turning to technology to create great customer experience.
Customer service is becoming one of the core differences between customer service leaders and laggards. Here’s how the keeping up with the latest in customer service technology can benefit businesses:
- Upgrade from email to customer service software that lets you track, monitor, and engage in customer conversations in a more comprehensive manner.
- Integrate multiple channels into a single dashboard to do away with juggling between different tabs or tools. A unified view of all channels also enables you to offer a consistent experience no matter where customers contact you.
- Automate routine workflows to increase agent productivity.
- Use chatbots to answer basic questions in seconds and deflect up to 60% of tickets.
- Use AI to assist your agents with the information they need in real time and maintain a higher quality of service.
- Scale your customer service operation without increasing costs.
- Get access to crucial customer experience metrics, and get a better overview of the state of your customer relationships.
New technology solutions can help customer service teams automate support processes, focus on creating memorable experiences, and at the same time, help more customers solve simple problems on their own.
What is the future of customer service technology?
To find out what the future might bring, let’s take a closer look at some of the leading technology trends in customer service.
1. More service teams will purchase remote-ready technology
In the aftermath of Covid-19, most customer service leaders plan to utilize a hybrid or full-time remote model for customer service in the future.
To maintain the same level of customer support while working remotely, companies will need to adapt their approaches to training and management and use a cloud-based, remote ready tech stack.
2. The ideal channel mix will contain self-service, live chat, and other messaging apps
21% of people now prefer live chat support (over all other channels)1, so live chat and AI and ML-powered chat tools are becoming more important than ever.
Customer service leaders are taking advantage, providing a smoother experience with a bot-first approach to customer engagement. This allows them to implement a low-touch, high-impact customer service strategy by emphasizing self-service.
3. Omnichannel customer service solutions will be a must-have
70% of customers prefer brands that deliver an omnichannel experience.1
That’s not all. 67% of consumers use at least three different channels to engage with brands1, and 87% expect a consistent experience across them.2
In a smartphone-driven service environment, many brands now offer mobile-first support on various messaging channels and mobile applications.
4. Businesses will scale service at a low cost by empowering agents with AI
Even as the overall ticket volume grows, 31% of service leaders aim to maintain the quality of service, without hiring more staff.3
Translation: businesses are going to invest in smarter internal self-service such as agent-facing AI and assist bots to help existing agents handle a higher volume of tickets (more on this later).
4. CX leaders will focus more on the Voice of Customer (VoC)
As customer experience is becoming more and more crucial, companies are increasingly investing in monitoring the “Voice of Customer.”
VoC is a top priority for 50% of customer experience leaders.4
It involves gathering data from a range of different sources to get a better understanding of how your customer feels about your products and services, such as:
- automated surveys following key actions (NPS or CSAT)
- social media monitoring
- recording website behavior
- customer interviews
How to use technology to improve your customer service
Now that you’re aware of the trends, let’s cover how you can use this up-and-coming technology to improve your customer service.
1. Start with a cloud-based customer service software
The best starting point for customer service technology is to invest in a cloud-based helpdesk.
With a cloud-based customer service software, you can:
- Use a single platform to track and manage customer conversations with high transparency and avoid duplication of effort.
- Collaborate within and across teams with the full context of the customer’s issue.
- Use real-time dashboards to monitor the performance of your support team remotely.
- Empower agents to provide assistance from wherever they are using just their laptops or mobile phones.
2. Adopt an omnichannel customer engagement strategy
You can adopt an omnichannel engagement strategy using these three simple steps:
- Identify the channels that your customers are most active on.
- Choose an omnichannel customer service software that enables agents to offer support on all channels right from a single screen.
- Improve customer satisfaction with a more cohesive experience across channels.
3. Offer a range of self-service options
Enable your customers to solve their own problems with the help of an AI-powered chatbot, and a comprehensive knowledge base.
Give your customers the choice.
While building a navigable FAQ page or a knowledge base requires very little effort, if you want to optimize to deliver faster resolutions, then deploying a chatbot is often the best option.
With a chatbot, customers can get answers to their questions in seconds, from any page on your website, even from within your knowledge base if they struggle to find an answer.
Companies with a chatbot have a first response time six hours faster than competitors without them, on average.5
Thanks to the development of technology, designing and deploying a chatbot requires very little effort too. Using a no-code chatbot builder, you can launch your chatbot in no time without depending on any technical assistance.
4. Empower your staff with knowledge management and artificial intelligence
How can you help your support agents handle a higher volume of tickets without losing the quality of service?
Empower your agents with AI to make answering a customer inquiry a lot easier. For example, AI can search the internal knowledge base in real time and provide the answers they need. Additionally, with an agent assist bot, you can also set up conversational workflows that guide agents to resolve complex tickets efficiently.
And that’s only scratching the surface of what the Freddy Agent Assist AI can do for you.
Using Freddy AI, you can:
- Access automated workflows and execute them with a single click
- Automatically route incoming requests and update ticket properties
- Detect social mentions where customers require help and notify agents to resolve those requests
- Get smart recommendations for canned responses and solution articles that can be inserted into your response
5. Use analytics for insights into support performance and the real-time state of customer relationships
Customer service analytics help you track and visualize essential metrics for a realistic view of your performance.
With access to the data, you can pinpoint problem areas with your help desk and develop a strategy to improve your customer experience over time.
For example, managers can easily spot specific weekdays or hours in a day when you may need extra staff.
You can also use a mix of tracking website actions and surveys to get insights into your customer relationships.
You can’t fix an issue if you don’t know what it is. Analytics gives you the data you need to make educated decisions about the future of your customer support.
Even in the face of ever-increasing customer expectations, customer service leaders don’t have the budget to scale their team sizes to meet the new volume of requests.
So instead, they’re increasingly turning to smart solutions like AI-powered chatbots to lighten the load on their staff while delivering a positive (and quick) service experience to customers.
You can also take advantage of the latest trends in support technology for your company by following suit.
What’s your favorite piece of software or hardware that makes it easy to maintain a high level of service? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments.
2 – https://cstoredecisions.com/2019/05/16/brp-report-consumers-want-personalized-consistent-experience-across-channels/
3 – https://www.freshworks.com/the-new-cx-mandate/
4 – https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-06-13-gartner-reveals-75–of-organizations-surveyed-increas
5 – https://freshdesk.com/customer-happiness-benchmark-report