Trends are constantly ebbing and flowing. Customer service trends are no exception.
For example, COVID-19 fundamentally transformed the way we do business. Organizations were forced to figure out how to provide quality service to their customers in new ways. Many companies shifted their entire operation online.
As a result, the Internet became the most important tool for connecting with customers. In 2021, organizations relied on the Internet to connect with customers, increase revenue, and troubleshoot problems. We can expect more of the same for the upcoming year.
In 2022, organizations slowly shifted out of panic mode and began to refine their Internet-powered customer service strategy. Some companies even began implementing newer technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), to interact with their customers.
So, lets take a look at the latest customer service trends we are seeing today.
1. Increased Personalization
One of the top ways to impress customers is by knowing them personally. But how can you do that when you’re removed from your customers? What if your business is online? Or what if you have so many customers that you can’t personally know them all by name?
This is where the power of AI comes in.
(By the way, you’ll see the recurring theme of AI throughout this post. That’s because AI is becoming an essential technology for businesses that want to connect with their customers and increase their revenue.)
Through AI, you can personalize every interaction with your customers. Here’s how AI can improve your customer service:
- Recommend relevant products during checkout
- Send notifications when a customer abandons their cart before checking out
- Offer targeted tutorials when a customer starts a support ticket
- Send emails to celebrate a special event, such as a birthday
- Remind customers when it’s time to buy
- Offer help based on the customer’s browsing history on your website
- Send special offers via email based on previous purchases or conversations
This is just the beginning. The more you learn about your customers, the better you can be at personalizing your interactions with them.
2. The Rise of Chatbots
Chatbots aren’t exactly new, but they are becoming more important.
Chatbots actually date way back to 1966, but of course they weren’t mainstream until 2017. This is when Facebook Messenger allowed developers to use chatbots on its platform. Since then, organizations across all industries have adopted chatbots as a way of extending the reach of their customer service team.
So, what exactly is a chatbot and why do they belong in customer service?
A chatbot is a software program that replicates human conversation. The program sends and responds to text messages on a chat app.
Chatbots are becoming smarter and more sophisticated. These days, chatbots can help your customers in various ways. For example, a chatbot can:
- Answer frequently asked questions
- Generate leads
- Make recommendations
- Help with reservations
- Direct customers to a knowledge base for self-help
- Track orders
- Collect emails for a company’s newsletter list
- Securely accept payments
- Filter support-related questions in order to connect the right team
Chatbots are also becoming emotionally intelligent and able to predict moods based on punctuation.
Chatbots are an economical way to expand your customer service. And thanks to the widespread adoption of Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa, people are more comfortable with the idea of interacting with AI.
Finally, chatbots take a lot of pressure off of your support team by not having to answer the same basic questions over and over again.
3. Omni-Channel Support
One of the top customer service trends for 2022 will be the implementation of omni-channel. Omni-channel means that your customer service is accessible through multiple platforms, such as email, chat, and phone. You are able to interact with your customers wherever they prefer. But omni-channel also means that you’re able to provide a unified and seamless experience across all of these channels.
Keep these tips in mind when providing omni-channel support:
Identify which channels your customers prefer.
If the majority of your customers are most active on Facebook and email, that’s where you need to focus your time and energy.
Email is still one of the most important tools for communicating with customers. People trust email. Don’t neglect your email outreach because it’s not as new and exciting as other channels.
Be “social” on social media.
Social media users expect quick responses to their questions, so if you plan to use this channel, be careful that you check your social media page(s) frequently (at least once per day at the same time).
Empower customers through self-service options.
Customers often want to solve their own problems. Ensure that each channel you use directs your customers to self-service resources. This way, customers can resolve their problem on their own which saves sanity and can empower your customer-base.
4. Self-Service Made Easy
Some people like to solve problems on their own. By providing your resources and getting out of the way, you will empower your visitor.
Speaking of self-service, one of the top trends for 2022 customer service is to empower customers to help themselves.
Create resources to help your customers. For example, you can build a knowledge base, and then ensure that your customers know about it by sharing a link through your chatbot, or by promoting it on your “Contact Us” page.
5. Customer Success
Instead of being reactive, customer service is turning proactive. Customers benefit when the organization continues to invest in the customer’s success. In addition to troubleshooting problems, organizations are now creating “customer success” teams.
Customer success teams are activated after a customer has purchased a product or a service. But unlike traditional customer service, this team reaches out to customers before they experience any issues. They anticipate the challenges a customer may face and do check-ins and offer resources or personalized assistance to ensure that the customer doesn’t feel overwhelmed or defeated.
Investing in a customer success team is one of the best ways to reduce churn and improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.
6. Agent Empowerment
Your customer service team is the face of your brand. This includes a wide variety of people in your organization, from your receptionist to your customer-facing support technician. Because they deal directly with your customers, they should be empowered to do more than smile and “get a manager.” It doesn’t look good when your customer support team doesn’t have the power to resolve customers’ problems.
A recent trend that’s on the rise is agent empowerment. More organizations will give their customer service teams autonomy to make on-the-spot decisions to meet the customer’s needs. This level of trust demands an increase in training. Over the next year, organizations will develop and invest into ongoing training to ensure that their customer service teams know what to do when a problem arises.
7. Distributed Support
The pandemic forced many organizations to go distributed or cease to exist. However, as things normalize, many organizations have shifted to the distributed workforce permanently. As a result, we’re seeing the rise of distributed customer service and support teams.
One of the major benefits of embracing a distributed model is that organizations can hire talent from across the globe. This also means that even smaller organizations can afford to offer customer service around the clock.
So how do you stay ahead of the trends?
In other words:
- Focus on building real and meaningful relationships with your customers by ensuring that you know your customers and they know you.
- Respond as quickly as possible to customer requests.
- Make it easy for customers to contact you through an omni-channel setup.
- Follow up with customers to ensure that you’ve handled their requests.
The above tactics are always on-trend and will ensure you’re meeting the demands of your customers in the future.
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