2019 is coming to a close and the customer support industry is moving into the next decade. It’s become even more clear that support expectations are changing, expanding, and require a higher level of diligence to provide the best experience possible for customer satisfaction and loyalty.
To welcome the new year, here are five predictions for 2019.
Messaging Surpasses Voice
Over the years, we’ve seen voice lose ground yet still remain the primary support channel for customers in certain sectors. As consumers have begun embracing a more mobile-focused view of communication, other channels have gained in popularity, specifically messaging. SMS and chat are now essential channels for how we communicate not only with each other, but with the brands we love and the products we use.
While voice will always remain a critical channel for support, especially for urgent issues, customers today communicate both verbally and visually with one another. In 2020, we will see messaging (SMS and Chat) overtake voice as the most popular support channel, especially on omnichannel platforms that can channel steer between various curated paths.
Multichannel Expands to Multimedia
Having a streamlined and fluid support experience across multiple channels is no longer a nice-to-have, it is a must. Customers today expect to be able to not only contact support via mobile, web, in-app, social, and more, but easily move between channels without compromising their experience. Similarly, contact center directors want to easily channel steer queries based on urgency and complexity.
Expect to see companies no longer building out their multichannel capabilities, but instead, optimizing each support pathway to meet the tech-savvy needs of their customers. Support teams will look to infuse multimedia capabilities into their channel functionalities. Photo and video sharing, capturing screenshots, providing contextual data like battery life, and diagnostics will all become regular parts of support interactions.
Data Will Break Down Silos Between Support and Other Teams
The digital transformation of customer support extends beyond the interaction between support agents and customers. It involves identifying tools and technologies that connect into a larger ecosystem, helping support teams streamline their operations, resolve issues efficiently, and generate faster time to ROI.
Arguably very few people interact with customers more than support teams and in 2020 we will begin to see the impact and value of support data being shared across the enterprise. Customer feedback, sentiment, profile data, and more that can be securely shared across an entire organization not only helps teams such as marketing, sales, and product make more strategic decisions, it elevates the importance and value of customer support as a whole.
Support agents have a difficult job. Not only must they be able to defuse potentially frustrating situations and upset customers, they must also be able to speak to the product and its capabilities, and do so in a personalized and branded manner.
As the presence of technologies such as AI and Machine Learning within the contact center continue growing, and more customers are directed towards bots and self-service options, support agents will become hyper-specialized. Agent specialization will not only be geared towards channels, but also centered around specific issues, situations, and the urgency of incoming support interactions.
AI Goes Internal
Up until now, when discussing AI and its impact on customer support, the conversation has typically been centered around chatbots. While chatbots certainly play a critical role in reshaping the customer experience and the future of the contact center, AI will continue expanding its reach and influence over not only external customer interactions, but the entire contact center ecosystem as a whole.
The fact is, in many cases, AI can be best served as an internal tool. The reality is, while it may be in the background, by providing automatic and instant actionable insights, AI will dramatically improve day-to-day employee work.
In some cases, these solutions can collect data across multiple channels and enable support agents and employees to connect it all — in order to have better context as to who the customer is and why they are reaching out. AI can also route customers quickly and efficiently, helping to reduce overall session times without compromising, and in many cases improving, customer satisfaction.
Customer Support isn’t a “good to have.” It’s an Active Influence on Business
Customers have hundreds of business and brand choices and are quick to abandon a relationship because of bad customer support. Negative customer experience will convince consumers to find an easier solution and word-of-mouth will convince potential new customers to find other solutions.
These predictions are already in motion and customer expectation will continue to guide the evolution of support to a more efficient and data-driven experience.