Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? I did—I made a few, actually. Some of them didn’t last the month of January, while others are what I still consider a “work in progress” eight months later. For example, I’m still working on turning my “black thumb” into a “green thumb.” Judging by my thriving hydrangeas garden, I’m learning, things are growing and it’s going okay.
I set a reminder on my calendar to check in with myself and my resolutions around the middle of the year. When that reminder popped up recently, it got me thinking about all the resolutions and predictions and forecasts that are made at the beginning of the year. I know how I’m doing on my resolutions—but what about some of those predictions I heard about from colleagues or read about online? For example, Kate Leggett of Forrester Research wrote a blog back in January about the top trends for customer service in 2014. She offered ideas on everything from delivering pain-free customer service to personalizing customer service interactions. In looking back at what she wrote, I would say that four of her predictions have come true—at least for LiveOps customers.
Trend 1: Customers Demand Omnichannel Service
It’s so true that customers use different channels for a variety of reasons, including where they are at that time, what topic or issue they are contacting a brand about and the sensitivity of the information they’re sharing. It’s increasingly common for customers to start an interaction via social media and continue that interaction on another channel. They might be provided a direct line to call a brand representative, or perhaps a representative calls them. Brands need tools to help agents seamlessly pivot from one channel to another to keep customer satisfaction scores high and keep those customers coming back for more.
Trend 5: Companies Will Explore Proactive Engagement
It’s always a good idea to engage with the customer, and now it’s possible (and becoming easier) to engage at an earlier point. Using contextual routing, a brand can have real-time insight into a user’s browsing pattern on its website and jump in to offer assistance. Whether it’s the live chat invitation, a special offer email or the multimedia tutorial Leggett mentions, brands can “save” a sale and even up-sell. Customers appreciate the personalized attention and the brand benefits from goodwill and the transaction itself. Win-win!
Trend 10: The Agent Experience is No Longer an Afterthought
Brands expect a lot from their agents or representatives. They have to know the products or services they are selling/supporting; they have to know how to use the system in front of them; they have to be friendly and helpful to customers (even when those customers are not in the best mood) and their performance is measured and reported on to meet KPIs and other standards. If you ask an agent what is their biggest challenge in that list, they will likely say the system and tools they work with. Toggling between applications on a computer screen is time-consuming in itself, but doing so when interacting with a customer and being under pressure to resolve an issue within a certain timeframe…can you say stressful? Using a system that integrates multiple elements on one screen with no toggling needed, even when moving amongst social media channels, makes a big difference. And if an agent was able to do their job from anywhere with a few simple tools…all the better.
Trend 11: Customer Service Organizations Are Adopting SaaS Solutions for Agility
The cloud is here and it is shaking things up. There are so many benefits to brands that move to the cloud: lower CAPEX costs; enhanced flexibility; increased scalability; ability to hire the best representatives who are based anywhere (and not be restricted to geographic proximity to the contact center); simplified maintenance and support; and the list goes on. Scalability is a big consideration, especially for brands that experience peaks and valleys in their contact volume depending on seasonality, special events or special promotions. The cloud is the present and the future (my own prediction).
Kate Leggett had eight other predictions in addition to those addressed here – which I would categorize as a “work in progress” for the industry. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be thinking about these again toward the end of the year to reflect and think ahead.
What were your predictions or resolutions for 2014? Are there any you’re already thinking about for 2015?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net