8 Ways Technology in Customer Service Will Evolve in 2020

How Will Technology Improve Customer Service?

Did you think you would see a day when brands would use WhatsApp to have service conversations with customers? Or that customers would actually prefer not speaking to human agents? The unpredictable nature of technology means that you should always be on the lookout for emerging trends, or you’ll face the risks of dealing with obsolete processes. 

From investing in mobile support, to exploring newer self-service channels, to using AI to improve how your chatbots interact with website visitors, here’s a comprehensive look at all the new directions we predict customer service technology will take in 2020.

#1 Live Chat Will Replace Email as the Most Popular Service Channel

In today’s world where instant messaging rules the roost, customers no longer want to wait for hours or days to get their support queries answered. Naturally, this has led to a shift in how they reach out to brands. Modern communication channels, especially live chat, are being preferred at the expense of conventional channels like email and phone. 

The key advantage of live chat is how easy it makes it for customers to initiate immediate, real-time conversations with support agents. They can do this directly from the chat widget on your website, or from your mobile app. In a recent survey, we found out that live chat consistently ranked in the top 3 channels of engagement in most countries. In the US alone, close to 26%1 of the customers we surveyed chose live chat as their most preferred channel for service interactions with brands. 

If you haven’t hopped on to the live chat bandwagon already, you should definitely look to do so in 2020. Especially if you’re scaling your team and are looking to provide customers with more avenues to contact support, you should invest in an intuitive, easy-to-use live chat solution. You should also consider how well the software you pick works in tandem with your helpdesk. Seamless integration between the two tools will mean customer conversations from these channels flowing into a unified inbox, and your support agents having complete context of a user’s problem without having to switch between tools.

Brands Will Invest More in Messaging Applications Like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger

Considering the above developments in live chat as a channel, it should come as no surprise that brands will invest heavily in applications like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple Business Chat to have service conversations. 

These apps dominate the digital world today, and are the go-to-options for customers whenever they’re on a time crunch and are expecting quick responses. They provide convenient, personalized support and make it easy for customers to get their queries addressed on-the-fly using their mobile devices. Most of these tools integrate natively with live chat software, thus allowing your agents to handle these conversations from a single, unified location.

WhatsApp chat integration

#2 Self-service Will Mean More Than Just Having a Knowledge Base

76% of consumers2 globally prefer to first try to solve issues on their own before contacting support. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that self-service will continue to dominate the show in 2020 as well. But, does providing self-service to customers end at just having a knowledge base? 

You’d be surprised to know that newer forms of the self-serve model such as DIY videos, community forums, and embedded help content in chat widgets are growing in prominence. Since a majority of companies have already implemented a basic knowledge base already, the onus now lies in how much you’re able to make the experience better for end-users and how easy you make it for them to troubleshoot issues on their own.

To build the best self-service flow for your company in 2020, you should pay attention to the following factors:

  • Invest in a self-service software that will help you completely customize your portal’s look and feel, and ensure it’s in sync with your brand language.
  • Embed a widget on your portal that can fetch data from your knowledge base and auto-populate answers to frequently asked questions. 
  • Create a community of engaged users who can help each other and reduce excessive dependency on your support team. Community forums are a proven way to improve ticket deflection rates. 
  • Do not have large blocks of text on your knowledge base articles without any visual breaks. Group questions relating to a specific topic for easy navigation, and incorporate more interactive elements like DIY videos, gifs and annotated screenshots to make the content more accessible.

Freshdesk community forums

#3 AI Will Continue to be the Differentiator in How Chatbots Work

With artificial intelligence and machine learning(AI/ML) being the talk of the town, chatbots are expected to become smarter in 2020. Apart from helping with ticket deflection, they should be able to gauge the customer’s intent better, and become more adept at identifying exact customer requirements and assisting them with fast, precise answers. 

A good AI-powered chatbot engine will not just help you deflect the basic support questions but will also help you build business workflows to automate tasks such as trial extensions, refund issues, and more. 

Chatbots can also be programmed to assist your agents in providing better solutions to customers. Agent assist bots will populate relevant solution articles and information from the knowledge base that support agents can plug in directly into their responses.

Bot flow in Freshdesk

#4 Video Customer Service Will Grow in Prominence

No amount of conversations via chat, email, or over the phone can be considered quite as convenient as those via video. With the upsurge in video conferencing solutions like Zoom over the last few years, service conversations over video calls have become much more popular. Companies use video to provide comprehensive troubleshooting measures, and to also build a human connection with customers. 

Here are some ways video customer service is likely to take shape in 2020:

  • Customers who use their phones for service interactions are likely to prefer one-to-one video support, as it can offer them quick resolutions without excessive back and forth. 
  • Companies are likely to offer video support as a paid/premium option to offer more personalized service to customers using their higher-end plans. 
  • Videos are likely to play an important role in self-service, with brands having video libraries containing walkthroughs and webinars as part of their support portal. 

Freshdesk video library

#5 Proactive Support Will be a Game-changer

Customers are no longer satisfied completely with reactive action. They’re increasingly expecting brands to take initiative and proactively offer help. This can be something as simple as communicating server downtimes in advance, or something specific like offering a discount coupon in lieu of a bad product experience. In any case, you should be in a position to anticipate customer problems and reach out to them before they come looking for help. 

Therefore, it goes without saying that you should incorporate elements of proactive action in your customer service strategy. For instance, if you’re an e-commerce store, you can send cart abandonment emails to customers to enquire if something got in the way of a successful purchase. Or, you can be on the lookout for frustration signals like rage clicks, dead clicks, and more on your website to identify customer pain points.

A good strategy would be to invest in a predictive helpdesk that lets you automate these processes and extend a helping hand to customers whenever they’re stuck.

Proactive outreach in Freshdesk

#6 Customer Service Teams will Directly Impact Product Roadmaps

Support teams interact first-hand with customers on a daily basis and have a good idea of their requirements and pain points. Through the help of technology like video conferencing and remote screen sharing sessions, they know exactly where customers get stuck, what features they enjoy using, and the improvements they need in the UI. 

However, most companies today view the sole objective of the customer service teams as resolving customer problems. They fail to see the larger picture of how support agents can share their observations with product teams, and contribute to making the user experience better. In 2020, close collaboration with the support team will help product managers build features that customers actually want to use. 

To achieve this, you need to give your support team the flexibility to ask questions to customers beyond the usual troubleshooting steps. They need to be on their toes, and use every opportunity they get to derive meaningful insights from customer conversations.

#7 A 360-degree View of Customer Information Will Enable Better Experiences

Presently, a lot of businesses have different CRM, helpdesk, live chat, telephony, and social media applications that work independently of each other, and do not support a seamless flow of data between them. This leads to cumbersome manual entries, a lack of context in customer conversations, and ultimately, a major dent to the productivity of your workforce.

Make 2020 the year you say goodbye to working in silos. One of the most important shifts in the CX landscape is the introduction of customer engagement suites that have sales, support, and marketing applications as part of a single package.

Not only does this help you cut costs, but it also enables your teams to have a 360-degree view of the customer at all times. Your sales and support teams can seamlessly work together as all the data from your CRM will flow into your helpdesk, and vice versa. Similarly, customer conversations from each channel will come into a single, unified inbox ensuring you’re always on top of the customer’s interaction history.

#8 Customer Satisfaction Will be at the Forefront of KPIs and Metrics

The ultimate aim of any business is to win customers for life. This ideology will reflect in the benchmarks you set for your support team, and in the KPIs and metrics that you’re going to closely monitor. While standard productivity metrics like FCR and average response times will continue to stay as relevant as ever, this year will see an increased focus on the customer-driven metrics like the net promoter score(NPS) and the customer effort score(CES).

These metrics will give you a direct measure of user perception both in terms of your product, and the customer service you’re delivering. They are also closely aligned with revenue metrics like the churn rate, and will thus play a vital role in understanding the importance of user experience in buyer decisions.

2020 – The Year of Innovation in Customer Service

“The only constant in life is change” is now a rather cliched saying. But it still holds its ground when it comes to customer service. You can only make customer service more intuitive for users if you’re able to adapt with the times and incorporate newer technologies into your existing workflows. Customers will lap up the progressive ideas, and you can be rest assured of a loyal user base. Let us know what new customer service technologies you’ll be implementing in 2020 and how you plan to make them work in the comments section below!

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1 — https://freshdesk.com/resources/report/the-new-rules-of-customer-engagement
2 – https://freshdesk.com/resources/report/the-new-rules-of-customer-engagement