Companies now know that customer experience is the key competitive differentiator. Data shows that organizations which excel in CX outpace laggards on the S&P 500 index by almost 80%. Their customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, to try additional products or services, and to recommend the brand to family and friends. However, many companies are still struggling to make the customer service experience as effortless as possible. As 2019 comes to a close, they must better prepare for the new decade and beyond. To help you plan, we’ve highlighted nine of the biggest customer service trends for 2020.
In 2020, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning are expected to have an even greater impact on contact center operations. Salesforce predicts a 136% increase from 2019 to 2020 in the number of organizations using AI-powered chatbots, which will continue to be integrated across communication channels to provide seamless real-time customer service on a larger scale than ever before. They also empower human agents by pulling up relevant customer data at the right time, enabling reps to provide better, more tailored service.
Analytics will drive hyper-personalized experiences
Customer data can be tapped to help businesses deliver superior overall experience as well as service and support. According to Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that knows their name and purchase history. In 2020, the challenge will be to capture, use, analyze and draw deeper insights from data in order to track and personalize each customer journey, with the goal of boosting brand loyalty.
Greater demand for data transparency and security
Data transparency in the digital age will be a critical focus in 2020; it’s already in the headlines on a near-daily basis. Beyond legal requirements – such as GDPR – businesses must find ways to build and maintain trust with customers in all areas, including messaging, pricing and customer service excellence. Guarding customer data diligently is crucial; breaches are costly and severely affect customer sentiment. Every company should implement data security awareness programs and ensure that their employees are trained in the protocols necessary to secure customer data.
Growth of virtual contact centers
Many customer service jobs are easily performed from home and in 2020, a growing number of companies will enable significant growth in their off-site workforces. In fact, the number of people who work from home has increased by 140% over the past decade. The growth of remote working will continue to be driven by smart technologies and digital transformation. Armed with the right tools, agents with the freedom to work on their own terms will be better engaged and motivated, enriching customer experience and reducing churn dramatically, making it one of the key customer service trends for 2020.
Delivering better CX through emotion
Brands need to consider the psychological makeup of their customers; people need to feel acknowledged and understood, especially when faced with a challenge. Customers who have an emotional connection to a brand are more loyal, make more repeat purchases and spread positive word-of-mouth. This trend is catching on fast, with research predicting that the global market for emotion analytics will reach almost $1.6 billion by 2024, up from $220 million in 2019. Analyzing emotions can be used to understand a customer’s experience of a product or a specific interaction with a representative, uncovering any weak links that cause negative reactions, in order to improve long-term relationships.
Computer Vision-powered self-service
Companies everywhere are rolling out self-help tools to empower customers to resolve simple issues on their own. However, only 9% of customers report successfully handling problems via self-service channels. This is often because even the best and smartest chatbots simply can’t see those issues. Computer Vision technologies – such as object recognition, image to text, and image similarity – can add significant value a company’s self-service offering, allowing customers to visually interact with bots that can visually guide them toward self-resolution. Computer Vision can also add valuable visual data to a customer’s profile and help predict issues before they happen and is one of the most significant customer service trends for 2020.
Voice will be king
Some estimates suggest that half of all online searches will be voice-based in 2020. Consumers’ rising preference for voice has resulted in contact centers focusing on making voice interactions more intuitive by combining voice with screen-based technologies. Analysis of live audio streams and recorded voice files will deliver new levels of personalization in CX. Traditional text-based chatbots will give way to smart bots powered by voice recognition, while predictive speech analytics will be increasingly utilized to identify customer service opportunities and deliver improved experience.
Reaching customers through social media
Social media has emerged as a vital customer service tool, with 37% of consumers expecting a response to social media questions or complaints within 24 hours. In 2020, brands will harness the power of social networks to an even greater degree, providing excellence in customer service by answering questions and offering resources over each customer’s preferred channel, or even just reaching out to say thank you for a positive review or post.
Leveraging Augmented Reality
2020 will see customer care centers tapping into Augmented Reality to transform CX. AR has emerged as a powerful tool that gives brands unprecedented opportunities to interact with consumers on their mobile devices. The technology creates new digital experiences that transform the customer journey into an immersive, interactive affair. For example, customers can access AR-based manuals and receive AR-based Visual Assistance that provides step-by-step guidance, showing them exactly how to resolve issues right there on their smartphone screens.
The most important customer service trends in 2020 will be those that blend leading-edge technologies with effective CX strategies. From AI, personalization, data security, and emotion analytics to Computer Vision, voice, and AR, the top tools will be as intuitive as they are innovative.