23 Customer Service Trends Every Service Leader Must Know About

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Every year new buzzwords and trends are introduced into the customer service space. Some are just ‘words’ while others are impactful trends that can really change a business for the better. How do you know which trends are most important and which ones to ignore? It’s not easy, so we decided to help you out and identify the 23 trends every customer service leader should be aware of to effectively run their business in 2020.

1. The Power of Prioritization

People want to feel special and brands continue to find ways to make that happen. One popular method in 2020 will be using the power of prioritization to route certain customers to specific reps, ensuring a seamless and special experience.

2. Voice Search Pops up on the Customer Service Radar

According to a study by PWC, 65% of consumers aged 25-49 talk to their voice-enabled devices daily. This trend is catching the attention of customer-centric organizations as they struggle to determine how voice search will or should impact their organizations. Little action will happen for this in 2020, but a lot of talk and discussion will.

3. Omnichannel Becomes Obvious

Consumers care less and less about the idea of omnichannel. They just want to be able to focus on getting ahold of a company no matter the channel and no matter the time of day. This means organizations have to look at omnichannel experiences as table stakes, since its no longer acceptable to deliver a disjointed and inconvenient communication strategy.

4. Reps Will Focus on the Customer, Not Finding the Customer’s Information

This crap has to stop. A recent report noted that customer service reps spend 25% of their time looking for information about the customer. Are we really doing this? I know the answer is yes, but it shouldn’t be. It’s time to empower our reps to spend time solving problems rather than trying to figure out who the customer is and where to find their information. Look for this to change in a big way in 2020.

5. Self-Service Becomes an Expected Approach

You knew this one was coming, so don’t act too surprised. Gartner studies say that only 9% of customers report solving their issues completely via self-service. That number isn’t going to cut it anymore and leaders know it. My advice: don’t get behind this trend, get ahead before you get left behind.

6. #SocialService Becomes a Must

You might be familiar with social media playing a role in customer service, but in 2020 expect that trend to get much bigger. Social media channels like Instagram will lead the way, adding new and more convenient ways for customers to interact with agents on the channels where they spend the most time.

7. A Focus on a Customer-Centric Organization

People have been talking about customer service for ages, but now it’s not just about talking the talk, it’s about walking the walk. What does that mean? It means organizations don’t just have a pricing strategy, product strategy, sales strategy, or a go-to-market strategy. They will also have a formal customer strategy at the center of their organizations.

8. The Acceleration of the Scalable Service Department

Many businesses struggle to scale their teams based on seasonality and look for outside help to do so. In 2020, the remote rep will continue to grow in popularity as companies find this to be a viable solution to their scalability requirements.

9. Bigger Customer Service Budgets

You heard me right. Customer service organizations will continue to have bigger budgets. In fact, Gartner reported that worldwide spending on customer experience software grew 15.6% to reach 48.2 billion in 2018, and I don’t see that trend slowing down anytime soon.

10. Customer Service Goes Outbound

Inbound customer service has been the norm for a long time, but things are changing with companies looking to go “outbound” to customers in a major way. Rather than relying on internal teams to send communications, reps and customer service teams will be empowered to proactively push out notifications and communications to individuals and groups through any channel.

11. Contact Center Turnover Continues to Be a Problem

A recent report stated that contact center turnover is between 30% and 35%. This trend is not likely to change, with most companies failing to crack the code on retention issues. Until companies start looking at this through the lens of the customer, they’ll continue to fail. Employee engagement and customer engagement need to be managed together, and then, and only then, will companies start to crack the code on employee turnover.

12. The Customer Experience Rises in Priority as a Marketing Strategy

Marketing and customer experience are both important functions, but if you don’t manage them together you lose powerful synergy. In 2020, more organizations will recognize the power of bringing these two functions together as more CMOs incorporate customer experience into their overall strategy, especially for B2C brands.

13. Companies Find Ways to Lower Cost Per Channel

According to the 2019 Gartner Customer Service and Support Leader Poll, live channels such as phone, live chat and email cost an average of $8.01 per contact. That’s a lot! In 2020, companies will continue to master omnichannel and find ways to lower their cost per contact on these different channels.

14. Deflecting Will Be Part of Every Team’s Strategic Plan

If you haven’t heard the word “deflecting” yet it’s either because you’re not in customer service or you haven’t been paying attention to all the buzz. Deflecting is the idea of routing some of the tedious work of reps to self-service channels where customers can find the answers themselves rather than talk to an agent. This is a conversation every customer service organization will have in 2020, so if you haven’t started, now is the time.

15. The Phone is Not Dead

The phone is still the most popular channel for getting issues resolved, and it’s not going away anytime soon. That doesn’t mean other channels will not play a role in customer service. It just means abandoning the phone would be a really poor business strategy.

16. The Instant Gratification Revolution

You thought customers wanted speed before, wait and see how 2020 plays out. Customers are not just demanding quicker service, in some cases they are revolting if they don’t get it. Speed has and will continue to play a bigger and bigger role in customer service.

17. Chat Begins to Overtake E-Mail as the Number Two Channel for Customer Service

According to a Gartner study, phone still dominates for issue resolution, but chat officially passed e-mail for the second spot. Watch this trend continue as chat provides a more personal and real-time resolution option for customers.

18. Personalization Becomes Even More Personal

Personalization is an obvious trend that most companies are trying to master. But in 2020, watch for this trend to take on even more meaning as companies push the limits of personalization by not just personalizing the service experience, but also the product experience.

19. AI Isn’t Taking Over the World, but It Will Be Part of Every Customer Service Team

AI is still more buzzword than reality, but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored. In fact, the opposite is true. Customer service leaders need to start looking for ways to use AI to streamline their operations and make the customer experience better if they want to stay ahead of this important trend.

20. Video Support Becomes a Reality

This one is scary for a lot of people who don’t want to, or who don’t like to, get in front of the camera. We’re so used to hiding behind phones and computer screens, this may be a harder trend than most to adopt. Seventy eight percent of consumers expect online and in-store retailers to treat them the same according to a recent Kustomer survey. With this statistic, video becomes a very important tool and companies will find a way to start building video into their customer experience.

21. Convenience Becomes the Number One Factor for Customer Experience

Matt Dixon is still right. The amount of effort a customer has to exert directly impacts their overall experience. That idea was written in the famous book “Effortless Experience” years ago, but the idea is not going away. It’s actually getting bigger. Customers want convenience, or this “effortless experience” more than anything else, which will force organizations to simplify their processes and look for ways to make it easy for customers to do business with them.

22. The Mobile Experience

According to Stat Counter, desktop usage is declining while 52% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile. If you really want to be customer-centric, you have to figure out how to provide great customer experiences through mobile.

23. Bots and Humans Partner to Deliver Great Service

Bots don’t have to work alone, and neither do humans. Look for brands in 2020 to bring the bot and the human together through interactive ways that ultimately drive efficiency.

Find out what else customer service leaders should be aware of in our buyer’s guide.

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