Now that 2016 is neatly tucked away in the history books, it’s time for us to watch out for some exciting trends in customer service over the next 11 months.
We’ve identified three customer service trends that made cameos in 2016, but will take more of a lead role in the upcoming year. Check it out:
The Rise of the (Messaging App and ChatBot) Machines
According to Business Insider, messaging app usage has surpassed social networks over the last two years. Facebook took the lead in 2016 when it announced it was turning its instant messaging and software application service, Messenger, into a platform that allows businesses to use it as a customer service tool to chat with consumers. With the functionality of “always on” customer support, chat apps have a much higher retention and usage rate than most mobile apps. With the majority of messaging app users being millennials, a powerful and influential demographic, the expectation of messaging apps being offered by more brands will increase in 2017. However, it is important to remember that chatbots are essentially machines pretending to be human. Although they can answer simple straightforward questions, they don’t have the capability to be a true brand ambassador/advocate, or be able to provide a personalized level of service. In most high touch instances that require a white-glove approach of human intervention and guidance from a customer service agent, chatbots and automated messaging services can actually lead to a more frustrating and fragmented customer experience.
Customer Data Will Be Your New BFF
In 2016, we talked a lot about the importance of big data and how that can be used to tailor the customer journey with a brand’s products and services. According to Salesforce, 57% of consumers are willing to share data with companies that send personalized offers and discounts. With that access, brands will finally make the push to leverage customer data from their CRMs to create more tailored experiences in 2017. This not only creates lasting customer loyalty, but the average spend per transaction also increases. A great example of how a brand personalizes the experience with their customers is Sephora. In-store beauty advisors can take photos of a shoppers face with its Sephora + Pantone Color IQ technology. From there, it recommends a number of products for their specific skin tone. A follow-up email is later sent to that shopper suggesting more products based on their photo. The information is also stored in the member’s Beauty Insider loyalty account, where customer service agents can access if a shopper has any questions or issues with their products. Look for even more personalized shopping experiences and loyalty programs in 2017.
But First, Mobile
Consumers will continue to be obsessed with their smartphones in 2017, and we aren’t referring to Pokémon Go. According to a BI Intelligence report, mobile commerce will make up 45 percent of total e-commerce, equaling $284 billion in sales by 2020. Brands will continue to evolve their product and service offerings by designing responsive online storefronts tailored for mobile devices to ensure a seamless experience. This will be critical, especially with the purchasing power of those millennials again. In fact, according to Internet Retailer, brands that have kept this customer in mind and adopted a mobile-centric approach showed an 80% increase in sales, with 42% of all mobile sales from apps alone. Creating a mobile first approach in their shopping experience is key, but brands should also not underestimate the customer service support that should follow. These consumers clearly want the ability to connect anytime, anywhere, and providing a text messaging solution allows brands to connect with them throughout the entire customer journey - from shopping to purchase and beyond. Look for more brands incorporating this solution into their customer care portfolio in the upcoming year.