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.