Customers are the fuel that keeps businesses running. You probably know that no phrase demands more attention than the saying that ‘Customer is king.’ With competition getting stiffer across the board, businesses must expand their offers and maintain sales volumes and appeal. It's tough to ignore the value of service.
In taking advantage of modern technologies, some businesses have revolutionized customer service in ways that turn mere clients into partners and collaborators. Here are the best customer trends and how you can use them to wow new clients.
The world is getting more fast-paced by the day, and wherever customers are, they tend to choose quicker services each time. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that when businesses give frontline workers self-service analytic tools, they can act fast and intelligently.
However, as self-service tools are incredible for workers, they are even more important for customers that businesses aim to service optimally. With new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), companies can help customers address problems on their own.
Amazon is a company that embodies the value of self-service with its contactless or just walk-out stores. Customers can simply walk in, pick items from shelves, and walk out in the new Amazon stores. They get charged from their mobile apps once they leave the store.
The store's popularity proves that there’s a huge market for companies or products that consider the customer as a partner – not a target. While collaborating to maximize service delivery, businesses can turn customers into loyal ambassadors who look at every interaction as a benefit.
As a business, you can adopt self-service options by implementing the latest technology and predicting customer needs. One example of self-service capabilities working perfectly is the use of Google search engines. Customers avoid calling business hotlines and waiting on hold for hours on end. They prefer to solve problems on their own by reading the solutions and fixing them faster.
The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section is another popular example that helps customers by providing them with information that is integral to quality service. Another option is a self-service customer support option like a chatbot that can serve customers 24/7. With such tools, customers can solve their issues without having to undergo extraneous alternatives.
The age where customers would call in and describe a problem until they run out of breath is long behind us. A customer service trend is the use of face-to-face video, which creates a real-life connection between two parties.
The pandemic helped bring face-to-face technologies to the forefront, revealing that video is a powerful support tool. Today, jumping on a Zoom is not a strange idea, especially for customers that need help faster.
Video tools are incredible for customer service since they eliminate the physical and language barriers that might arise between businesses and clients. If a client needs assistance on an issue, all they need to do is open up their camera and show the service provider the problem.
Technical support is easy with video, as support can instruct the customer on installations and assembly faster. Customers report more satisfaction when they get help faster, affirming value in the tool’s efficiency.
Research reveals that video might soon replace calls and emails as primary communication channels. For instance, Vonage found that at least three out of five customers choose video chats with businesses and service providers.
While these customers spread across different fields, including Telehealth, investment, insurance, and remote learning, their experiences are comparable. They all consider video and screen sharing capabilities as a viable means of solving issues faster without losing the human touch.
To captivate your customers, adopt video not just as an option among other solutions but also as a primary tool. When implemented in customer service, video benefits agents in contact centers by improving their productivity and ability to close new tickets. Equally, video can also make it easier to close sales since it facilitates a positive customer experience.
As connectivity and video apps are enhanced, the use of videos will become more abundant, helping companies build long-term relationships through better service delivery.
In the past, remote services were a preserve for a few progressive organizations that dared to think outside the box. Yet, under the pressure of a sudden pandemic, most businesses were forced to embrace remote services for operations. During the revolution, home-based contact teams became the norm, creating both opportunities and challenges for customer service.
Flexibility in remote service delivery is a major trend, one that's creating notable transformations in the market. According to a study from Deloitte, researchers discovered that during the COVID-19 era, maintaining customer trust and loyalty became a competitive factor.
While it’s early to predict whether this customer service trend will stay, your business can wow clients by showing that your work patterns are flexible. Customers appreciate brands that promote employee welfare, and with the economics of work favoring remote work, this trend might become a mainstay. In the future, we might see a hybrid work pattern matching office and adoption of home-based contact teams.
A customer calls a contact team, and even before they introduce themselves, the agent refers to them by name. Now, imagine how the customer would react when the service agent offers them solutions that match their specific needs and preferences too.
We all want to be understood, and when it comes to customer service, this should be a major consideration in all interactions. When dealing with customers, a one-size-fits-all approach fails because everyone is different. This is an important trend since while customers might be looking for similar products or services, they want to be treated as unique and special.
One reason why personalized services are becoming the new priority is that, in the past, customers relied on the salesperson. The salesperson helped customers find everything they needed and, during interactions, chose what worked for them.
The salesperson relied on information they had learned about the customer over their interactions. However, since most businesses today are not brick-and-mortar, proprietors can’t know all their customers personally. An alternative solution to this challenge is to utilize all the information about consumers that the business collects every day.
Customer service agents should know customer histories, particularly their purchasing preferences, to determine their tastes and preferences. Instead of scrambling at every turn to ask the customers what they desire, analyzing their history can help anticipate solutions that might work for them.
This is the future of customer relations, and with technology tools available, businesses can gauge customers' opinions too. For instance, it’s possible to analyze the purchasing history of a customer, which can provide the sales agent with a better view of the customer’s personality. Tools like sentiment analysis can also help uncover customers' opinions and what they feel about a product, service, or brand.
In the competitive marketplace, businesses need to offer personalized and relevant suggestions to customers at every encounter.
Customer experience is everything that affects a customer’s feelings and perceptions about a business. Quality customer experience is emerging as an important area of focus for businesses that tap into it to improve performance and growth. It’s therefore not shocking that studies into customer experience reveal deep connections between efficiency and client satisfaction.
A survey from American Express showed that American customers are willing to pay more for services to companies that offer a better experience than others. The statistics affirmed what most top-level organizations have known for a long time; the best services keep you ahead of the curve, beating incompetent rivals at all turns.
One strategy that some businesses have perfected is treating clients like family. These organizations portray themselves as the best partners to customers by going above and beyond when delivering ordinary services. When the customer is like family, you (the business) are open, direct, and honest with them. You should base your culture on authenticity, transparency, and clear communication.
These relationships tap into the basic human connections by showing customers that you truly care. A simple example is when a customer has to cancel an order because of personal challenges like losing a loved one.
A customer-centric business would go beyond facilitating a return of the package and instead ask what a friend would do in this scenario. Sending flowers or a condolence card proves that you understand what they are going through. These actions build emotional connections and inspire loyalty.
When customer-centric principles are part of your organizational culture, getting service right becomes a must-do and not just an option. You can impress your clients by showing them that you’re not all about business but also relationships.
A decade ago, mobile and web platforms were options that businesses could choose to do without. At the time, most businesses still had brick-and-mortar operations that didn’t require web accessibility to excel. However, today, no business can afford to miss a platform that you can access either through the web or mobile platforms. These avenues are becoming more integral for businesses, with their value almost equaling that of running a physical location.
Data from Pew Research reveals that at least 85%—a vast majority—of Americans own smartphones, and another 10% own feature phones. While these individuals have different uses for their devices, including maintaining social connections and education, access to service is a prime need. As more people work from mobile devices, businesses have no option but to create content and services that are accessible through these platforms.
Businesses appreciate the reality that the reliance on these devices will only continue to grow, and in response, most have expanded their capacities to provide smoother experiences. Some of the benefits of mobile devices for customer service include:
Businesses implement non-voice channels like chat and email on a large scale, but an undeniable fact is that the phone has great applications for customer service. To win over your clients, ensure that your mobile channels are always open, and you can turn them from customers into ambassadors.
Social media is great for establishing connections between family and friends. With the popularity and use of these platforms peaking, many businesses have entered the spheres as platforms for meeting clients. Yet, owning a social media account and posting pictures and videos of products is the bare minimum. For customer service to excel on social platforms, businesses need to have more engagement and excellent monitoring techniques.
To understand the potential of social media as a customer service tool, we have to look at what the data says. Statista reports that in the United States, the average response time for social media complaints and questions differs across the spectrum.
Such data indicates that social media can be great for customer service if businesses meet customer expectations. For businesses that fail to meet such high hopes by ignoring timely feedback, a simple question can lead to lost business and PR disasters in the worst-case scenarios.
Some of the ways through which you can ensure that your business is not overwhelmed by social media are to:
Building a brand extends beyond the products or services you sell. Brands are notable social actors, and their brand values are an extension of their base offering. A trend is that customers no longer seek out companies because they can get products and services at prices they can afford.
They identify with companies based on their external voice, a quality that establishes a meaningful bond. For such customers, finding an organization or business depends on the brand appeal and its conformity to their values.
Some examples of companies that have strong brand appeal are Apple and Nike. Apple’s history as an innovator is extensive, and for the company, the ‘Think Different’ campaign represented its dedication to being unique. The brand value was a hit with customers, employees, and shareholders alike, who found pride in a business that values quality over quantity.
Any Apple customer will upgrade their device upon release because they connect with their creative and quality product. The same applies to Nike, whose famous slogan ‘Just Do It’ signals drive, athletics, and heroism.
While your business doesn’t have to carry a famous slogan or reputation like Nike or Apple, you need to show clients what is at your company's core.
Your values can help you resonate with target customers in ways that humanize your brand. Define your brand values and stick to them in every message, either openly or subliminally, to make them memorable for clientele. As you decide on your brand values, try to ensure that they are:
To captivate your customers, ensure that you lead with values. As you develop values for your brand, take your time to learn more about your customers. Once you find issues that matter to them, proceed to craft your values around them to connect.
As businesses interact with customers, they collect an avalanche of data that ranges from personally identifiable information to location tracking. Most companies use the information to understand gaps in service, delivery, and needs, so they can better meet them. Others even analyze the data to market products better to customers through personalized advertisements.
Sadly, many companies abuse the trust that customers place in them. When customers learn of these habits, they respond negatively, often deciding to sever connections. The importance of data and privacy and their risks add a new dimension to customer-company relationships.
A study by McKinsey explored how Americans feel about companies collecting their data:
The outcomes reveal that the stakes are too high for companies that don’t value data protection and privacy. These emerging trends get worse due to high-profile consumer-data breaches and hacks that leak vital information.
The risks posed by data protection and privacy make transparency about data practices vital to customer relations. While a company might like to personalize services and products to customers, it should also realize that safeguards are important. Communicating clearly on how data is secured and whether third parties share it can restore confidence in the business.
Transparency is a delicate dance for companies and one with the power to win or lose clients. Businesses need to include more than a data disclosure agreement in the terms and conditions segments to stay ahead of the data trend. They also need to consistently show clients that they value their data and do all they can to secure it. If data is breached, companies should handle the issue professionally.
After preserving the data breach evidence, handle public communications and investigate the breach. Competency builds confidence and shows customers that you value their data.
Service agents are usually the first line of interaction between a company and its customers. A new developing trend is the rise of empowered service agents as businesses realize that autonomy gets more work done. The empowered service agent has access to more tools when they are interacting with customers.
With customer service getting more competitive, businesses realize that investing in good service agents is a proactive response to needs. One reason why empowered customer service agents are valuable for your business is that when they have control and autonomy, they are committed. Service agents can dedicate themselves to goals and take the initiative.
Some of the benefits of empowering service agents include quick responses to customers, being more welcoming, and the ability to help customers find solutions. Rather than see the empowerment of agents as a dramatic shift in operations, businesses need to appreciate its potential for positive change.
Customer service plays a vital role in helping clients fix their problems and achieve satisfaction. Yet, client success emerges as a related customer service goal.
For any business, providing great customer service is a priority, but the goal is to create value for customers in the long term. When service can help customers realize value, this becomes customer success. It's an important element that separates the best companies from "just-okay" market players.
When customer service initiatives connect to help customers achieve their own goals, customers reward the business with loyalty. Here's how you can achieve these goals.
Let the client know you're on their side. For example, some organizations rely on enhanced support for big clients since they realize that questions about products or services will arise with more business. If a firm has resources to answer customer inquiries, it can help them achieve its goals.
Some tools that can enhance customer support include chatbots, email tickets, and articles. These support avenues equip customers with the resources they need to overcome barriers to effective operations as they arise.
Another approach that shows clients that you value their success is by conducting follow-ups and acting on feedback. Follow-ups are vital for discovering unresolved issues and suggestions for improvement.
Processing and responding to these concerns offer a sure way to deliver better products and services. A business can gradually form great relationships by showing customers that their success is valuable, too.
More recently, businesses have started deploying customer success teams alongside customer service teams to ensure that goals are attainable. Such proactive measures avail incredible insight to a business and ensure that customers gain whatever they need to achieve.
The customer service trends reveal that businesses have various avenues to explore as they optimize their operations. The trends emerge as both opportunities and threats for businesses, depending on their ability to execute them efficiently. If you have any doubts about your capabilities to execute the solutions offered, Smith.ai is ready to help.
On the cutting edge of the communication world, Smith.ai delivers diverse services to optimize your site's capabilities and strengths. These are some of the services that Smith.ai can handle as you focus on other aspects of your business:
With a partner like Smith.ai on your side, your business can finally embrace the demands of the new customer service market. Take advantage of these services as you take your business to the next level. We offer a 14-day, money-back guarantee. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your free, 30-minute consultation.