Ten years ago, customer service was usually relegated to an outsourced contact centre. Today’s proliferation of “Customer Heroes”, “Customer Success Managers”, “Customer Experience Consultants” and the like, however, reflects the growing demand for service experts.
Permeating businesses from the base to the boardroom, customer service is now widely recognised as the key to ongoing company success. But tackling such a vast, rapidly evolving area is no mean feat. To steer you in the right direction, here are 5 figures that define the shape of customer service in 2017.
1. 97% of global consumers say customer service is important in their choice of, and loyalty to, a brand.
Consumers across the world are demanding a better calibre of customer service. In a saturated marketplace that is rich with choices, they won’t be swayed by price and product alone. Now, the level of service received plays a starring role in purchasing decisions.
The brands that win customers in 2017 will be the brands that recognise that service is a hotly contested business battlefront: not an afterthought or an extra effort. And the brands that keep them will be the ones that maintain quality and consistency.
2. 72% of customers now expect a customer service agent to know their contact details, product information and service history as soon as they engage and without being asked.
In the old days of filing cabinets, Rolodex and archaic databases, customers could tolerate a certain degree of delay in accessing their details. Indeed, if you received instant recognition coupled with highly tailored service, you would often be a high-profile customer.
Those days are gone. In the age of the CRM, of internet cookies and of tracking software, personalisation is demanded. Customers know you have access to their data, and expect you to use it to deliver tailored service — immediately, always, and for everyone.
3. 79% of surveyed global contact centres say they have no big picture view of a customer’s interactions across service channels.
With the rapid rise of omni-channel, it would be reasonable to assume that contact centres would have a comprehensive overview of each individual customer’s interactions across each communication channel. Unfortunately, that would be a woefully incorrect assumption.
In the race to update legacy software and move towards streamlined systems, the challenge of integration is leaving many companies in the dark when it comes to seeing the bigger picture. This leads to one thing: a poor customer experience. Uninformed agents can’t give informed service, and companies dealing with piecemeal data can’t gain a bigger bite of market share.
4. Service leaders anticipate customer chat to grow 87% in the next 12-18 months.
The trend continues: live chat is emerging as the customer contact channel of choice. Typing out live questions and answers whilst continuing with your day is convenient, unobtrusive and perhaps most importantly: quick.
Customers don’t want to take time out of their day to talk to you. Certainly, they want answers, support and resolutions to their problems – but they want them without the lengthy phone calls or the delays. That’s why the chat market is growing exponentially, and that’s why businesses should adopt live chat software or risk being left behind.
5. 77% of global consumers have a more favourable view of brands that offer proactive customer service alerts and notifications.
In 2017, reactive service is ineffective service. In an always on, digitally enmeshed world, customers know you have the technology to help them promptly and proactively – and they expect you to use it.
The empowered consumer of 2017 won’t chase you up. As the provider, you need to do the running, and you need to be on the ball when it comes to keeping the customer updated on their account status and service requests. Simply being responsive isn’t enough. To create customer delight in 2017, you should also be pre-emptive and proactive with your service.
2017 stages a battle ground for quality customer service. To shape up, stay on top of the trends shaping the year.