With the arrival of the new year, it’s time to consider what the new trends will be for customer engagement in 2015. Since advances in technology provide constant opportunity and demand for changes to your call and contact centers, implementing new strategies is essential to staying on top of the game. Here are the key trends of 2014 to consider this year.
Consumers continue to show an increasing demand for non-voice channels to meet their customer service needs. While companies frequently employ a multichannel strategy which allows customers to make transactions through the channel of their choice—via SMS, chat, or apps, for example—2014 saw the steady rise of the omnichannel. The latter adopts the perspective of the customer by delivering a seamless and consistent message across all channels, allowing the customer to begin a transaction in one channel and move to another fluidly. As indicated by Google trends, there was a marked surge in searches for the word omnichannel between 2013 and 2014. As some might argue that the omnichannel strategy is multichannel at its most enhanced, expect to see a steadily increasing demand for both strategies with a particular emphasis on the omnichannel.
Mobile customer engagement
The advent of new technologies coupled with falling prices has increasingly made smartphones the consumer’s preference over standard feature phones, with a particularly rising demand from emerging countries. The GSMA—the organization which represents the interests of the world’s mobile operators—reports massive growth in smartphone use over the next six years with an estimated 6 billion in use by 2020. Furthermore, the International Data Corporation predicts that 1.4 billion smartphones will ship in 2015. A rise in smartphone use translates into a growing demand for customer service through integrated in mobile apps, therefore creating opportunities for companies to optimize their mobile engagement strategies to drive sales.
Analyzing and understanding customer behavior are essential to providing excellent customer service. By understanding past behaviors of customers, companies can resolve customer issues more efficiently as big data collected on the customer will enable representatives to quickly and accurately offer solutions without a need for asking many questions. As customers are also connected to brands on many channels, it is vital to collect, analyze, and treat data across all channels—provide employees with the right tools for understanding, so they in turn may provide optimum customer service.
In 2014, the use of intelligent assistants became increasingly popular among consumers when engaging in customer service, as many companies are striving to better implement such services to enhance the customer service experience. Intelligent assistants are effective for providing quick, efficient service tailored to a customer’s personal needs, all the while reducing costs for companies, shifting expenses to more critical tasks, and increasing live agent productivity. As highlighted at Opus Research’s Intelligent Assistants Conference 2014, companies such as Hyatt Hotels are using automated services to streamline the reservation process while food industry chains such as Domino’s Pizza enable faster ordering and delivery. According to NLI News, Infiniti Research predicted that the global Intelligent Virtual Assistant market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 39.32% over the period 2013-2018 while Grand View Research predicted that the global market for such technology would reach $3.1 billion by 2020.
The Internet of Things
In the modern age, smartphones and computers are not the only devices with a wireless connection. The Internet of Things—when the internet is connected to physical objects, thereby rendering them “smart objects”—is set to revolutionize customer service. According to ABI Research, by 2020, more than 50 billion additional devices will be wirelessly connected to physical things. By enabling objects such as household appliances (refrigerators, for example) to communicate problems directly to the manufacturer or to the consumer before the problem actually arises, the Internet of Things allows for efficient customer service by diagnosing and predicting problems in a proactive manner. Companies are therefore poised to deliver stellar customer service when smart objects’ data are properly analyzed and addressed, and customers and businesses alike will no longer need to spend time troubleshooting issues which can be prevented in the first place.
Customer service departments have become increasingly dependent on cloud technology. Hosted solutions have made cloud technology less expensive and easier to upgrade, therefore making it a preferred choice for contact centers. Markets and Markets predicts that the global cloud-based contact center market will grow to more than $10 billion in 2019.
To build and maintain customer loyalty, customer engagement needs to be effortless. People value time and convenience—and ultimately the money they save—meaning that companies must strive to make their customer service experience as quick and painless as possible by providing the best solutions in an efficient manner. According to CEB, 65% of effort comes from the customer’s interpretation of how a customer representative made them feel. It is therefore essential to ensure that customer service representatives have the right skills for delivering optimum, positive customer engagement and preserving loyalty.
Excellent and effortless customer engagement depend on the commitment of agents, supervisors, and contact center managers and their willingness to deliver on this promise. Yet the effortless experience should be available to all, whether it be the consumer or the employee delivering service. To offer your customers the best service possible, technology providers of contact center solutions must provide an effortless experience from the start.