Customer service used to be so simple: just one quick email or phone call to resolve an issue. But with new technology that creates instantaneous transactions and deliveries, customers are now seeking new ways to get immediate answers. We researched several industry leading reports about customer service from experts like, Forrester, Comm100, ZenDesk, and Parature, and we uncovered five trends to put your customer service ahead of your competition.
Customer Service Applications Are Moving to the Cloud
“Overall, growth in the CRM/customer service applications space was triple the growth rate for all enterprise software.” – Parature
More and more organizations are actively changing to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications to better manage customer service operations. According to Navigating the Future of Customer Service, a Forrester report from February 2014, about 15 percent of customer service organizations have already switched entirely to a SaaS based application to manage their customer service needs, and approximately 24 percent of organizations are complementing their current solution with a web-based application.
Why is this information important? SaaS applications are far more user-friendly for both your customer support representatives and ultimately, make it easier to help to your customers. They facilitate faster service to a wide customer base. SaaS applications foster better teamwork and performance transparency, and are critical when customer service representatives (CSRs) are working with customers and colleagues and worldwide teams.
Proactive Communication with Customers
The industry reports agree that proactive customer communication is on the rise for customer service. Companies must reach out to a customer and address any uncertainties or issues before problems occur. For example, if a customer lingers over a particular knowledge base article for some time, make a pop-up appear on the visitor’s screen with your customer support contact information, such as your email address or a link to your contact form.
“Proactive engagements anticipate the what, when, where and how for customers, and prioritize information and functionality to speed customer time-to-completion.” – Forrester
As many as 29 percent of companies are investing in outbound communication options, such as live chat or service alert workarounds for their customers. Proactively contacting your customers does not necessarily need to be limited to technical or product-related questions. If a customer lingers in a shopping cart or attempts to close a shopping cart prior to completing their purchase, offer a discount or a coupon code for their product to recover the sale.
Going Mobile and Going Social
It is now more important than ever to make your website and support site accessible on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Comm100 suggests, “Build[ing] your mobile presence in a way that adds value to customers in a mobile environment rather than duplicating your web presence for your mobile offering.” Furthermore, mobile based ecommerce is projected to increase from $37 billion a year in 2011, to $223 billion a year in 2016. Your customers are on their phones to buy your products so make sure your support options are available there too.
Though some customers prefer to receive customer service through social channels, they currently account for only a fraction of support requests. Nevertheless, it is still important to monitor your company’s social media accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for these customer support issues and requests for assistance. It is vital to be available and accessible wherever your customers are, even if it is simply to reroute a customer’s inquiry to your support or knowledge base page on your website.
Gone are the days when customers are willing to wait hours for an email or wait to speak with a customer support representative. Customers are now demanding responses to their questions immediately and are finding their answers through self-service options. According to a Forbes article on the topic of customer service trends, “Best-in-class companies often see six to seven times the number of issue resolution through a self-service portal than through human interaction.” Seeking out recurring customer inquiries and providing answers in a knowledge base or a monitored customer content forum can not only provide an immediate answer for the customer, but also deflect the customer from contacting support.
Directing customers to self-service options can also cut down on your response times, resulting in higher customer satisfaction. A Forrester survey concluded that there has been a “12 percent rise in web self-service usage, a 24 percent rise in chat usage, and a 25 percent increase in community usage for customer service in the past three years.” Some useful self-service options include a knowledge base, frequently asked questions (FAQs), a customer forum, and product screenshots or online installation videos.
Increased Training for Customer Support Representatives
Your CSRs are the voice of your support, and ultimately your reputation and organization. By increasing CSR training, support requests are not only answered more accurately and are more thorough, but the customer also experiences faster response times. Remember that customers can contact support through several channels: phone, email, forum or live chat.
However, 56 percent of companies fail to measure cross-channel CSR performance as most companies only use quality assurance for their phone support. Therefore it very important to also monitor your emails or live chat, your knowledge base articles, and direct feedback from customers.
Keep up with industry trends in customer service to facilitate faster response times and improve satisfaction among customers for continuing business.
Emily Oney is an Email Marketing Coordinator and former CSR at cleverbridge