New customer service trends seem to emerge every year, especially since online experiences became so important to customers. Keeping up can feel like quite the challenge, but it’s essential for meeting customer expectations in the long term.
To help you plan your strategy more effectively, we put together a list of the latest customer service trends that will play an important role in the coming year.
In 2019, mobile accounted for 65 percent of all ecommerce traffic and 53 percent of sales. Mobile adoption is expected to rise, too: according to Insider Intelligence, m-commerce (as it’s often called) will rise at a 25.5 percent CAGR from 2019 to 2024.
Mobile also won’t remain a trend solely for purchasing. Consumers increasingly use it to enhance their in-store experience, by checking product reviews, comparing prices, and looking up product information. Also, with the rise of mobile, voice search has been on the rise, too.
This means that you need to pay attention to mobile optimization for both your website and customer support operations, for both text and voice searches.
Find out seven things you should avoid doing to keep online customers engaged.
Social media is always part of customer service trends, because they evolve constantly. For sure, social media is a great platform for connecting with customers.
Consider that 63 percent of customers expect companies to offer support via social media, and 35 percent of customers prefer that to other channels. In 2017, 80 percent of social customer service requests had come from twitter, but other platforms like Instagram have continued to grow since then.
Social media has also been a great place for brands to use humor and build up their brand, and we saw that tendency intensifying during the pandemic, when many people took to the web instead of going out. Also, 59 percent of US social media users think social media has made customer service easier.
So, make sure your social strategies follow best practices to engage customers effectively.
Chatbots have been touted as the next big thing in customer support since 2016 at least. And so far, predictions about their popularity have been generally accurate — more and more businesses opt to implement chatbots to automate routine questions, aid lead generation, and enhance the agent experience by triaging customer requests.
And, this customer service trend will likely continue. That’s especially because artificial intelligence and machine learning advancencements have made chatbots more powerful and more likely to understand users and learn over time.
So, if you’re not on the chatbot train just yet, or want to take it to the next level, consider the benefits you can get by implementing a chatbot as part of an omnichannel customer experience strategy.
Find out everything you need to know to get started with conversational AI in our guide.
You may have heard of the “Great Resignation” — one of the workplace shifts the 2020 pandemic caused (or accelerated). People are increasingly looking for jobs that will allow them to work from their own space, and are quitting those that don’t.
Customer service teams may be right to bring this shift into customer service trends — their job can easily be done remotely, and with the help of technology, they can have every tool they need at their fingertips, at home.
Plus, customer service reps do a stressful job since they often have to deal with difficult customers or complex requests. Having the comfort and quiet of their homes may help increase morale and productivity.
So, if you haven’t already, implement a customer experience platform that can help your agents offer high-quality online service, and help you monitor vital metrics for your team.
Speed impacts today’s customer service experience. Customers increasingly expect quicker answers and support. For example, 42 percent of social media users expect a response within an hour of their post or message, 32 percent expect a response within 30 minutes, and 11 percent expect a response immediately.
For live chat and chatbots, whose very design hinges on real-time support, customers may understandably expect almost immediate answers.
Yet, some suggest that it’s not about speed exactly, but about actually replying to a request or complaint no matter the channel. In 2017, research found that for every 100 people who demand more information about a product, service or brand, only about 13 of them will get a response. And that left a dent on overall customer satisfaction. Companies have now gotten better at responding to customers, but there might still be some room for improvement.
Be sure to have your customer service team monitor every channel where customers interact with you, and make sure no question or complaint will be lost.
Video, and especially video chat for customer service, is on the rise. While it has always been a popular medium, video exploded during the pandemic, and this trend may well continue.
That’s because video can enhance online experiences in ways that no other channel can. What’s more personable than actually seeing another person’s face?
So, companies have been increasingly using video chat software to bridge online and offline experiences. For example, automotive companies have used video to offer real time tours of showrooms, while furniture retailers have used video to remotely assess damages and repairs.
Think about how to leverage video yourself and choose a stable and effective platform.
Personalization isn’t a new concept, but it has reached buzzword status the past couple of years. People want more personalized online experiences, and are sometimes willing to pay more for them.
Hyper-personalization is also trending as many businesses have tried their hand in it. Success of different personalized tactics varies, but in general, marketers report benefits such as increased open rates through email personalization and an average increase of 20 percent in sales when using personalized experiences.
Personalized service takes it a step further than marketing — it’s about knowing who each customer is and their interaction history when they contact support. This is one of the more subtle customer service trends, as many businesses learned the value of unifying customer data long ago. What’s important now is to walk the talk and show customers you treat them as individuals, by eliminating data silos and centralizing support processes.
Online self-service has been a steady customer preference. For example, most B2C and B2B customers are likely to look up the answer to a question in a knowledge base or help center before they consider contacting the company.
But, with new technologies, self-service becomes even more complex and powerful. For example, according to a study, 73 percent of shoppers were in favor of self-service technologies, such as automated checkout, to improve the retail shopping experience.
Chatbots are also a great tool for self-service. Customers can ask anything and receive answers for routine questions even after hours when human agents are offline.
So, look into self-service options you can use for your customers and monitor impact on customer loyalty and satisfaction.
With all the customer service trends we looked at, one thing is clear: digital is a big part of customer experiences even for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. And this means that customer conversations will happen over an increasing number of digital channels, from social media to live chat to email to video and more.
The real challenges here are being able to service customers wherever they are and making sure that interaction history from every channel will be available at a single customer profile. This is the true omnichannel strategy that enables faster service and personalization.
So, to drive customer success and engagement in 2022 and beyond, go omnichannel: it’s the only way to ensure your customers will remain happy and keep coming back to your business.
Nikoletta is a Content Specialist at Acquire. She's a writer and editor with an avid interest in data, tech, communication, and the customer journey.