As technology and customer expectations evolve, so will customer service practices and commitments. Every indication points to increasing emphasis on keeping customers happy to keep the business going. Companies that go all in will survive and increasingly thrive. Those that don’t, even the ones that are “too big to fail,” face major loss of revenues and ultimately, extinction. Given their consummate emphasis on total customer service, such companies as Costco, Amazon and Southwest Airlines likely will continue to soar. Behemoths like Comcast and United Airlines, on the other hand, will see their customer bullying tactics backfire and customers run for the exits.
A recent Entrepreneur.com article headlined “5 Trends That Will Reshape Customer Service Over the Next 5 Years” details ways customer service practices and protocols will change in the coming years. In it, contributor Peter Daisyme, co-founder of Hostt website hosting and support, looks at the changing landscape.
He notes: “To keep existing customers and attract new ones, you need cutting-edge customer service. Consumers are four times as likely to buy from a competitor after a service issue than they are after a product one, according to research by Bain & Company.”
His article offers a critical observation about how technology needs to support—not supplant—people: “If you’re going to grow and maintain your customer base through the 2020s, you’ll need to innovate. Technology will be key, but it needs to support — rather than sideline — your customer-service staff.”
Among the trends Daisyme identifies:
- “Social media will become default channels.” In essence, social media outreach will become the primary way customers communicate as millennials and Gen Zers become more influential. The article points out: “Just 13 percent of consumers over the age of 55 have used social media for customer-service purposes…55 percent of those aged 18-34 have…Those running your social accounts need to understand your product or service like veteran members of your customer-service staff. Use chatbots to field common questions, freeing up time for your human service people to tackle more complex ones.”
- “Automation will get the human touch.” High touch and high tech need to work together. Daisyme emphasizes: “Automation and AI are hot topics in every sector, and customer service is no exception, but when customers hear ‘customer-service automation,’ they think of automated menus and spammy robocalls. From the user’s perspective, that sort of automation is worse than none at all. Used well, customer-service software can lighten an agent’s load without erasing the human touch.”
- “Customer-service training will be companywide.” Even non-customer facing employees need to be acutely aware of customer service pain points and solutions—and get on board with the customer service program. For example, engineers need to understand customer service expectations from the products created; and marketers need to know how to most accurately and completely present product information. Daisyme points out: “Encourage people to think beyond their immediate role and subject area….Ensure everyone knows how to refer to your product and brand.” Getting everyone on the same page about customer service helps create products that tune in to needs and wants, and presentations that ensure addressing those wants and needs.
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Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience.