15 Customer Service Trends in 2019
Do you have doubts about why you and your company should invest in chatbots and what robots can do for your business? Then keep reading this blog post where we will serve you 15 customer service trends in 2019.
To predict the future is difficult, especially if you turn to the field of Customer Service, an ever-changing area in our fast-paced digital world. However, we’ve managed to gather 15 predictions for the most significant trends of 2019 that every business owner should be aware of.
- The customer in focus.
- Simple and faster customer engagement methods.
- Digital channels versus traditional channels.
- Service 24/7.
- Self-service is on the rise.
- Customers are tired of going through customer service.
- Human support should always be there as a backup.
- Support the customers while they’re making their purchases.
- Digital assistants improve customer relationship.
- AI and Machine Learning investments.
- Will chatbots take over?
- Data is becoming an essential resource.
- The Internet of Things will assist humans.
- Digital technologies create new business models and opportunities.
- The gig economy thrives on crowd service.
It is about building a strong relationship with the customersm when you want to have an increased focus on customer success. Today there is an increase in the focus on the customer and the customers’ experience. A business must prioritize its customers to make sure that they don’t just jump to the next competitor. Hence, the outcome of an improvement of the customers’ experience will first and foremost be a good reputation, customer satisfaction, and loyalty towards the brand. It will, in turn, help increase sales, as it helps expand the company’s customer base.
This shift in organizations’ business strategy towards prioritization of the customer has also had a significant impact on simple and faster engagement methods.
Customers want both the buying/service experience they have and customer service to be easy, convenient and fast. And for a company to gain their trust, the technology should live up to the customers’ expectations and be userfriendly. When customers experience a problem, want to gain knowledge of the company or want to make a purchase, it is crucial that the company is up to speed and there to assist. It allows for customer engagement that encourages them to interact with that particular organization.
“To ensure both growth and operational excellence, leaders must not overlook the proliferation of digital technologies and growing customer expectations in the service space.” Valerie Streets, Senior Principal at Gartner
Maybe you remember those situations where you had to get in contact with customer service due to a problem you could not fix by yourself. It used to take place primarily on the phone with a real-life customer service representative, and you probably had to wait in line for an extended period to even get that far. Annoying, right?
Today, almost every business happens to be (or better, has to be) on the internet. In fact, it is nearly impossible to gain any market share without being visible online, as this is where most of the customers are too. More than half of the world population, 56,1 %, use the internet per 2019 according to Internet World Stats. With the digital devices at hand at basically all times, digital channels, such as the internet, online chats, and Social Media are overtaking traditional channels. The result is that it gets increasingly easy for customers to get in contact with the company. Or so it should be.
Slow or bad customer service still occur, of course, but luckily, more and more companies are implementing online chat or messaging service, and these types of services continue to grow in 2019. It all goes back to convenient customer engagement methods. According to The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce, only 12 % of service interactions are phone conversations with a customer service representative in 2022. It is a decrease from 41 % in 2017. Thus, companies are increasingly abandoning traditional channels in favor of digital channels.
Along with customer engagement methods and digital channels, customers are increasingly making their purchases anywhere, anytime, and with any device of their choice.
Nowadays, with smartphones almost permanently glued to people’s hands, lots of new opportunities for companies arise – but also lots of new expectations from customers.
Customers now expect to be able to interact with companies on any device, either while doing their online shopping or in the form of customer care. This interaction can happen while they are having a ‘quiet’ moment sitting in public transportation or even during the night – simply whenever it suits them.
Companies today have to live up to these expectations and take the necessary measures if they want to be able to compete. Living up to these demands entails being present and approachable in any suitable channel, e.g., on the phone, text, on the web, Social Media, online chat or through physical presence.
Most of the customer service takes place through digital channels and self-service is on the rise. Customers are getting more used to the convenience of taking care of things themselves as they go on a hunt for answers on a company’s website.
According to Matthew Dixon and his colleagues at CEB, the authors of the book The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty,; 57,7 % of all customers try to find the answer they’re looking for themselves on a company’s website before calling the customer service department, and 34 % are still on the site, trying to find a solution while calling.
One way to avoid the customers’ annoyance with customer services is to reduce the customer effort and, of course, provide excellent service directly on the company website. Include better and more thorough information on the site or instant support in the form of a digital assistant to assist the customer in the right direction. Investing in self-service can be a beneficial solution to many companies. It reduces the number of calls that the customer service department needs to attend to every day. For instance, implementing a customer service chatbot that provides instant support 24/7 and take care of routine tasks, can save a business on average 264 hours a year per employee. It means that 33 days per year, the employee can focus on other tasks that require extra care – that way improving customer loyalty and take the pressure off customer service.
Many companies invest in self-service to reduce the effort spent on services and save on the cost of services. However, to succeed, it is important to remember that improving the customer experience must be a central factor in the decision to switch to digital self-service solutions. The trouble here is that customer satisfaction might decrease if performed poorly, and the need for human support might increase, putting a strain on the customer care team.
There are several reasons why customers don’t want to talk to customer service representatives.
You would think that picking up the phone to get in contact with a company would be easy. But, according to The Effortless Experience, it turns out that 62 % of customers had to call support multiple times to find a solution to their problem. Other reasons are that 56 % of customers are tired of explaining their problem again and again to get some assistance. 59 % reported that they were transferred at least once while in contact with the support.
Furthermore, 59 % of the respondents felt that they had to put moderate to high additional effort into resolving their issues. All of these ‘obstacles’ make it feel like a hassle to have to go through customer service. The Effortless Experience state that the chances of customers turning disloyal towards the brand are four times higher because of customer service interactions.
Though many customers try to avoid customer service interactions with human representatives, human support should, of course, always be there as an option. Sometimes the problems that arise are just too complicated, and it would be a mistake not to provide that service.
However, a downside to human support occurs when the customer has to switch channels and give basic information more than once. It results in the customer having to spend even longer on getting the needed help.
Luckily more and more companies are finding ways to tackle this issue, as they manage to automatically collect specific data. Data such as the customers’ personal information which often already is stored in the system. It is possible due to the type of software robots called Robotic Process Automation (RPA) robots. These robots help organizations as they ‘collaborate’ with, for instance, the customer care team. They do this by flawlessly automating repetitive tasks and thereby enabling the team to concentrate solely on the customers.
Today, companies need to consider all phases of the customer journey. Customer service used to take place face-to-face while customers were making their purchases, or afterward when the customer needed help.
Now, the shopping cart is abandoned by more than 50 % of online customers if they face a problem that they can’t find an answer to or solve quickly.
E-commerce needs to be assisted by current customer service. Providing web chat, while customers are in the process of buying, ensures a smooth and consistent customer experience. This can lead to an increase in conversion rates and revenue. For instance, having a specialized commerce chatbot provide a relevant, convenient, and frictionless purchase experience 24/7, can prevent lost sales due to an impersonal shopping experience. When a chatbot combines sales and customer service, data shows a 300 % increase in conversion rate, as well as an increase in qualified leads.
Digital assistants, AI Agents, chatbots – you name it. As customers are turning to self-service, they will be supported by AI technology. In a rapid pace, companies are implementing digital assistants that can help to guide the customer. These assistants can answer the most basic questions or even answer questions within a specialized field.
Digital assistants are for most companies a step in the right direction. However, there are numerous possibilities where this can go wrong. Therefore, if you decide, for instance, to get a chatbot, first you have to make sure you are building the right bot before you build it right. You need to think about what kind of bot is suitable for your business. You also need to define the purpose of the chatbot, and communicate to the user what it can provide for them. That way, the user avoids spending an unnecessary amount of time interacting with the chatbot, only to realize that it can’t help with their inquiry. Secondly, the bot should be able to guide the user while the interaction takes place, that way preventing any form of confusion.
Additionally, you can consider implementing personalized content within your chatbot. For instance, if your customers usually make inquiries related directly to their situation and not just frequently asked questions, then it can be worth your while to personalize the chatbot a little further. Lastly, keep in mind that the chatbot is representing your company. It should contribute to an on-brand, effortless, and synergized user experience, thereby maintaining a good customer relationship.
If you are interested in getting more insights into how you can improve your customer relationship with a chatbot, check out this blog post.
There is a lot of focus on the use of AI and Machine Learning in today’s customer service. Therefore, the investments in AI/ML are increasing. Danish Statistics shows that in 2018, only 5 % of Danish businesses overall used Artificial Intelligence. Of the bigger companies with more than 250 employees, 20 % used AI. However, in the business of information and communication, the use of Machine Learning went up from 13 % in 2017 to 18 % in 2018.
According to the Future of Customer Engagements and Commerce, AI is expected to be embedded in at least one service process in 50 % of companies by the end of 2019. Furthermore, within 3 years AI will handle 15 % of all customer service interactions.
Numbers like these are contributing to the rising concern related to the AI machines. The worry is if AI might take over certain areas of business. AI is slowly being implemented in our society, and automation is replacing humans in many different tasks. One area that, according to some, could be in ‘danger’ is the (human) customer service departments.
Take chatbots, for instance. They could become one’s closest colleague and your customers closest friend. With Natural Language Processing (NLP) and the research in the AI techniques Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Natural Language Generation (NLG), chatbots are becoming better and better at ‘understanding’ what humans say or write, even if they do it unconventionally. It means that chatbots automatically can give a customer the right answer. Thereby it can imitate a real dialogue between humans. However, will the chatbots take over completely?
Well, potentially. With more research, collected data and if the chatbots are built correctly, they could eventually answer any question the customer might have concerning a specific business. However, the tasks of the customer service employees might change. For instance, the bots need someone to create them, monitor the data collected, and further develop them. That being said, there is always a need for customer care. The difference now is that the employee will have more time for a customer that needs extra care.
By now, everyone who uses the internet has become accustomed to their data being collected and stored by the companies they interact with online. Most people are also aware that their data is collected through search engines and social media and used for profit. Most people know the deal – they pay for online services with data.
Data is becoming an essential resource as companies can gain a competitive advantage if they manage to collect and analyze the information correctly. With data, companies can predict consumer behavior and make better decisions. By automating data gathering, they can track their customers and collect data easily and conveniently.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is slowly making its way in people’s everyday lives. According to Statista, there are 26.66 billion connected devices worldwide in 2019. It is estimated to increase to 75.44 billion in 2025, which is an increase of 183%.
IoT is the term used to define mechanical devices that connect through the internet. In ‘smart homes’ for instance, smart locks can be installed on front doors and connected to the owner’s smartphones, and fridges are now able to let people know if milk is running low – the list of smart devices goes on.
People can monitor and control the data via their smartphones, and companies can monitor the data collected through the devices. It is convenient and is said to improve people’s quality of life. As well as it will become very important for the companies that make use of this data. However, it does raise some privacy and security concerns for the user and questions of ethics to surround the IoT adoption into everyday life.
In 2018, every second company in Denmark in the private sector (54 % to be exact) used minimum one advanced technology. Such as, internet-connected sensors, satellite-based services, Big Data, service or industry robots, 3D print or AI – according to numbers from Danish Statistics.
Today, digital technologies are transforming companies and industries as they open up for new business opportunities. Some innovative companies, for instance, have changed the industry because they build their business model on digital technologies. Likewise, for many companies, the product has become their service.
Let’s take a look at the movie and television industry, for example.
It used to be necessary to go to the movies, watch tv-shows directly on the television or buying the DVDs as a physical product. When streaming services, such as Netflix came around, the ‘product’ was replaced by a service in the form of an online subscription to their digital platform. Now people can sit at home and watch tv entirely on their own terms.
Besides development in digital technologies, this transformation is taking place due to the responsiveness of the customer. The customers react positively because the customer experience is more convenient and better. Being up to speed about innovative digital technologies helps businesses expand their revenue and growth.
The business opportunities that come with the digital transformations are for more and more companies based on the evolving gig economy. The gig economy is a free market system, built on independent workers, and the employment is often short-term engagements. These workers are either professional freelancers, independent contractors, or lower-level experts that perform simpler tasks.
The gig economy is expanding as workers, due to different forces, choose to work freelance and abandon the traditional secure full-time work employment with a 9-5 fixed workday. According to the Intuit 2020 Report from 2010, which explores demographic, social, economic and technology trends that affects consumers and small businesses:
“The long-term trend of hiring contingent workers continues to accelerate with more than 80 % of large corporations planning to increase their use of a flexible workforce substantially”. Intuit 2020 Report.
Further, the Intuit Report 2020 states that the freelance workforce increases worldwide. By 2020, in the U.S. alone, the freelancers are expected to exceed 40 % of the workforce.
Some companies are taking advantage of the gig economy by offering crowd service. Take, for instance, the company Happy Helper. It consists of crowd service, as the workers are freelancers that sign up as cleaners, or ‘Happy Helpers.’ Hereafter, the customers can choose a cleaner through the digital platform to come and clean their house whatever time suits them best.
The service is convenient for the customer and in many ways, beneficial for the company.
To sum up
We have come to the end of our 15 customer service trends in 2019.
The digital transformation within customer service is happening due to the impact of new technologies. As well as organizations focusing on providing better customer experience and maintaining customer satisfaction. Customers, on the other hand, expect simpler and faster engagement methods when interacting with companies.
To stay on top, companies need to prioritize the customer and make investments that are not just beneficial to the company but also satisfactory to the customer.