Based on observing inquiries from tens of thousands of today’s impatient, mobile, and social customers together with hundreds of discussions with senior customer service executives, I have a three-point concept of what customer service will look like in a few years.
All digital customer care channels become a single Social Customer Ecosystem
Customers increasingly rely on versatile smart phones and tablets to handle service issues on the go. These devices send video, audio, texts, and other data, which social sharing then leverages to enhance communication. Digital social communities will be the backbone of digital customer service.
Self-care platforms will be integrated with feedback powered by social media, community discussion boards, and social sharing platforms, all connected with a centralized knowledge base. This will have a two-pronged change. In addition to increasing the quality and relevance of content available to customers, it will also increase the level of information available to agents, decreasing the overall costs of maintaining these support channels.
We know that voice customer service can be stiff, slow and formalized. But a majority of customer issues don’t even need formalized resolution – just results.
For exactly that reason, customers will prefer the versatility of switching over to the one-to-one, one-to-many, and peer-to-peer communication that social media provides, .
Relationships between brands and customers gets both public and personal
The whole planet is becoming one big help desk – you, me, our customers, everyone is an equal online. We are all communicating all the time, via text, email, social media, video calling, and now even through our wristwatches. There is a plethora of ways to contact anyone you’d like, either publicly or privately. Why can’t customer service also be both public and personal? How big of a revolution would it be for you if it could? Matching smart technology with human touch will make that possible.
Netflix Customer Service Agent takes a role from Star Trek as he helps his customer. A fun example of how customer service creates a unique relationship that transfers from a single agent to alter the perception about the entire brand. This discussion was shared by hundreds of major media outlets (example) and by millions of social media users in a month or so.
Customer service agents become Customer Advocates
Every company collects terrabytes of information about their customers. But for all that knowledge, it seems we still know less than we did a hundred years ago when it comes to working with people. Companies that invest in making personal care really personal again can strengthen customer loyalty the same way the neighborhood store has done it for centuries. The only way that really works: knowledgeable, caring, and responsible service agents, building long-term relationships with customers, and gaining trust which translates to higher sales and stellar word-of-wouth. Old-fashioned doesn’t always mean outmoded. And, new technology doesn’t change the fundamentals of great customer care.
Just think about it: Would you scream at a nice lady with a pleasant voice who’s helped you in the past, and knows what your issues have been?
Wouldn’t you be more open to a recommendation from an expert who’s helped you make the right decisions before?
O2 Gurus, a customer service agents of the mobile operator, publish instruction videos on YouTube to help customers resolve their frequently asked questions.
Companies will achieve higher sales by connecting people with sympathetic agents that match up well with the customer’s life-style and personal values. It is coming: Companies will let people vote on their favourite personal customer service agents, retitled as Customer Advocates, and then share their experiences with others within their social communities.
Example: KLM #happytohelp
In October 2014, KLM, the Dutch airline, wrapped a bold experiment in proactive social customer service, with the #happytohelp twitter takeover. The airline combined a new physical presence at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, in the form of a glass pavilion open to passing travelers, with over 30 social customer service agents, combing Twitter for customer issues across multiple airlines, not limited to KLM or even European flights.
Do you agree with the author? Or do you have other perspective? Join the discussion below.
Vit Horky is a CEO of Brand Embassy and Founding Member of Future Care.today.