Top Three Customer Experience Predictions For 2019

Will 2019 finally be the year that we exclusively converse with robots rather than humans at the customer care counter? While this may not be the case across all industries, technology’s impact on customer service is hard-to-ignore. Increasingly sophisticated technology and greater insight to the human psyche have both steadily transformed the core of modern-day customer experience. Consumers are well-aware of what they need when they invest in a particular product or service. This clarity requires businesses to step up their game and demonstrate their understanding of processes that result in true customer satisfaction. Companies must, literally and figuratively, put themselves in their prospective customers’ shoes. One way to do that is by experiencing the customer journey as often as possible. Other tried-and-tested ways to secure customer happiness include real-time social media monitoring and engagement by an experienced customer service professional. The challenge that businesses will face this year is bound to involve fast-paced communication channels and customers with very particular expectations.

Peer into the “virtual” crystal ball, chances are these will be the top three customer support predictions you will see for the coming year:

#1. Consumers and Businesses Opt for Mobile

It is both what we revolve around and what we use to run our lives- the mobile phone. At any given moment, there are over 10 billion connected devices in use across the globe. Businesses and their consumers are similarly reliant on mobile-based platforms and applications to conduct their daily affairs. Thinking beyond tablets and phones, companies need to adopt a multi-channel approach that guides customers towards the desired outcome – a sign-up or a sale. This approach supports the cardinal sales rule of being where the customer is, which in this case would be on the mobile-based platform.

#2. Higher Demand for Soft Skills

In addition to looking for fresh employees with non-traditional backgrounds, managers are now seeking out individuals with strong customer service skills. This preference for customer support experience correlates with the worldwide recognition that a newer set of soft skills are now required in the workplace. Whether or not one is in a primarily customer-facing role, there is a demonstrable need for workers who can deliver on many levels, specifically technical and non-technical. Soft skills, such as verbal and written communication, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking, all combine to provide immense value to the work at hand. With more and more mundane jobs being automated, it is now the sheerly human tasks that are gaining prominence, like the ability to use clear judgement and empathy to resolve a crisis situation.

#3. Hybrid Customer Support Solutions

The need of the hour is a hybrid customer support solution, one that combines technology and trained representatives, to cater to primarily business-to-customer industries. A flexible yet effective support solution, like live chat, enables businesses to connect with their customers across multiple platforms. One iteration merges phone, face-to-face, email, and website-based customer service interactions with self-service methods such as instructional videos, F.A.Q.s, how-to guides and support blogs. Another version takes advantage of AI-powered chatbots to provide the introductory customer support, especially useful when trying to capture key contact information, while human agents step in for increasingly more complex yet personalised conversations.

While striving for customer service excellence may have been a successful mantra in recent years, in 2019, consumers now expect customer experience brilliance from the get-go.  No matter where they are in their particular customer journey, the consumer should feel comfortably engaged by the brand and the brand’s representatives. This can look like satisfying interactions with customer service personnel in the store or on the official website as well as with social media representatives across various digital platforms.

Why Speed Is The Need In Customer Service

The modern consumer is firmly in the driving seat, especially when it comes to purchasing products and services. They know what they want, and how much they are willing to spend on a particular service or product. Not only that, the consumer usually wants the object of their desire almost immediately. Businesses must ensure that their wares and services are readily-accessible to the target consumer. Any delay can risk an imminent sale! Similarly, organizations strive to secure customer satisfaction by resolving complaints and requests as rapidly as possible. The bottom-line is that people want their issues resolved swiftly. Luckily, there are several customer service best practices that managers can introduce to their teams to increase efficiency – effectively speeding them up!

Here are three reasons why speed is the need for customer-centric organizations:

#1 – Keeps the Issue from Escalating

Moving fast helps any ongoing customer issue from snowballing into a bigger, more challenging problem. The angrier the customer is, the more damage a delayed response from customer service will have. The sooner an employee can resolve a customer service issue, the greater the chances of retaining that customer for the long-term. Critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and conflict-resolution are all soft skills that come handy when trying to satisfy upset customers. One way to make sure that your team is equipped to deal with complex situations is by hosting customer service skills training workshops. On-the-job performance can improve immensely for customer-facing staff with experiential learning sessions.

#2- Builds Trust

The first step to gaining customer loyalty is to secure the customer’s trust. This is especially true when they need the organization’s products or service the most. According to research, poor customer service drives away customers. A quick turnaround time paired with a real interest in the customer’s situation can result in a connection. Individuals in a customer-facing role have numerous opportunities to build the customer’s trust, starting with a polite conversation and ending with a speedy resolution.

#3 – Enhances the Customer Experience

Quick turnaround time is at the foundation of positive customer relationships. Consumers usually associate a helpful customer service experience with a speedy resolution time. Service time indicates the priority an organisation puts in pleasing their customers. Customers should feel delighted when they walk into your store or speak to an employee over the phone. No matter the industry, well-trained members can boost the customer experience by being communicative, and friendly.

As it is the era of omni-channel customer support, companies can provide assistance in many ways:

?     Set-up a  dedicated toll-free number for customer complaints and concerns,

?     Provide self-service options like support blogs and FAQs,

?     Integrate Live Chat Support on all digital platforms,

?     Respond to email queries promptly, and

?     Have active social media profiles on leading platforms like Facebook and Twitter

The secret to sustainable business is to embrace a customer experience mindset throughout the organization. When it comes to customer service, speed definitely matters.

What Is The Link Between Company Culture And Customer Service Quality?

The ‘Startup Era’ is responsible for introducing many colorful phrases and compound words into the global lexicon. This fresh terminology includes elevator pitch, bootstrapping, freemium, and even company culture. Company Culture, in particular, has come to define an organization’s overall ‘feel’ or personality. When scouts go on recruitment drives at colleges and universities, it is the company culture that they hope to hook the future employees with. Depending on a number of factors, including the average worker’s age, key products, history, the company’s vision, and management style, the company culture defines what is expected of the employee. This is especially true when their immediate supervisor or key decision-maker is unavailable. Culture equips an employee with the know-how to successfully navigate challenging situations at the workplace. No matter the industry type, company culture has an undeniable impact on customer service quality.

Bulls-Eye: Keeping Your (Brand) Promise

Imagine there is a bakery that has the word ‘punctuality’ emblazoned across its social media profiles. The bakery team is expected to uphold that promise with on-time deliveries.  An owner ensures service quality by equipping the workplace with all the required tools, and materials. This can include a third-party delivery service or a refrigerated truck with driver for custom cake orders.  If there is a delivery mishap, positive company culture encourages employees to resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction. A company’s mission, values statement, and slogan all play a crucial role in cultivating an organization’s culture. They usually embody an organization’s service philosophy.  It is when the leadership acts upon them that the employees see these statements for more than just words.

‘Home’ Away from Home: Boosting Employee Engagement

T-shirts, baseball caps, notebooks, pens, and laptop bags – these are some of the examples of branded goods that can create a sense of comradery in the workplace. Aside from branded paraphernalia, what actually fosters employee loyalty is work that they feel proud of, a supervisor that they respect, and an office environment that makes them feel right at home. This ‘togetherness’ can easily translate into improved employee morale. Other small gestures that contribute to a positive company culture include celebrating birthdays, generous leave policies, open-door policy, and perks like catered lunches.  Relaxed, happily-engaged employees deliver superior customer service. Along with treating the customers right, management must also make employees feel like an integral part of the organization. If employees do not feel valued, their dissatisfaction can hamper their quality of work and eventually, the overall customer experience.

Head-start: Customer Service Skills

A key component of positive company culture is an organization-wide understanding of the service philosophy. Every single team member must understand what is meant by ‘quality customer service’ at their workplace. Some managers achieve that by asking corporate trainers to deliver experiential workshops. These workshops can deviate from the standard classroom format. Instead of pulling up a presentation, facilitators can employ training games, and role-playing activities with the participants.  It is recommended that regularly-scheduled customer service training sessions form the bedrock of a skills development program. On-going skills-based trainings help employees work in teams, enhance their customer service skills, and boost their productivity.

A resilient company culture results in sustainable business. Interacting with a motivated, happily-engaged employee can often be enough to transform a one-time visitor into a lifelong customer.  Luckily, this potential lies within the grasp of each team member. Every employee is responsible for their part in developing the company culture at their workplace. The same goes for the overall customer service quality. With the aid of training sessions and open dialogue, an organization’s leadership can ensure that their company culture reflects their customer service philosophy.