In the very near future, customer service will become increasingly savvy about how we deal with issues early on and in some cases, preventing them. Sensors, mobile technology, and voice recognition will give companies ways to communicate with their customers and add value to the customer service relationship. However, a lot of companies are just not there yet. Below are some examples of certain trends which organizations may start to concentrate on for 2016 and beyond when it comes to the overall customer service experience.

  1. Field Service Technologies will help customers save time

A recent survey done by Forrester’s finds that 75% of all consumers value their time.  Consumers also feel that this is the most important thing a company can provide them with in support of tremendous customer service. Some examples of this include being on a call, an instant message chat, or while waiting on hold for a service technician to troubleshoot and fix their product issue/s. In 2016, customer service organizations will better support customer’s journeys that start with an agent-assisted service interaction and ultimately end with a service call. The agency will explore light-weight field service management capabilities which will ultimately give customers self-service appointment management abilities and allow the client service agents to efficiently dispatch technicians as well as manage their schedules.

  1. Organizations will make Self Service easier to use for customers

Customers today don’t want to waste time and energy calling, emailing or chatting with customer service agents. They want to be empowered to find answers on their own. In 2014 and 2015, the web and mobile self-service customer service interactions exceeded interactions over live-assist customer service channels. These are becoming increasingly used by customers as escalation paths to answer the harder questions in which they can’t finder answers for online. In 2016, customer service organizations will make self-service much easier for customers to use by shoring up their foundations and solidifying their knowledge-management strategy. Organizations will start to explore virtual agents and web communities to extend the reach of curated content.  For example, companies like Dell and HP will start embedding knowledge centers into devices such as printers, copy machines or delivering it via wearable technology to a remote service technician who may be onsite troubleshooting issues.

  1. Customary advice will help power offers, decisions and connections

Automatically deciding customers’ or systems’ next actions are becoming heavily leveraged in the customer service industry. In 2016 and beyond, organizations will start to use analytics in a much more prescribed manner. An example of this would be to provide the right amount of steps for a customer service agent to more effectively service their clients.  Analytics will also be used to better route a customer to a customer service agent who can most effectively answer their question based on the skills and behavior data or to better understand customer call patterns and minimize future calls.

  1. Customer Service Technology will consolidate

The entire customer service process involves sophisticated software which falls into three main categories: queuing/routing technologies, Customer Relationship Management software (CRMs) and workforce optimization technologies such as Salesforce.  To be successful, one will need to utilize solutions from each of these three software categories and integrate them to deliver high-quality customer service.  The combination of mature software is causing vendors to struggle with growth opportunities. The rise of robust software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology solutions, rising consumer frustration and the increasing importance of delivering simpler and smarter customer service is creating further unification in the marketplace. The unification will make it easier for buyers to support the end-to-end customer service experience with a single set of custom solutions.

  1. Connected Devices will trigger Preemptive Service and turn companies into service-based ones

Many businesses in the customer service industry use support automation to preemptively diagnose and fix issues for devices connected to the internet.  For example, Samsung uses an automated system which will automatically download and update your firmware in your HDTV set when you are not watching it. The only requirement is that the TV connects to the Internet. In 2016 and beyond, this type of technology will continue to transform companies from being product-based to service-based ones.  Many companies are starting to monitor the state of their equipment with this kind technology and in turn realizing new streams of revenue because of their customer-centric focus. To make this business model work, companies will need to keep a close eye on new and emerging interoperability standards such as device-to-network connectivity and data messaging technology. This type of technology works well under constrained network conditions. These data models should aggregate and connect with contact center solutions acting on the data via triggers alerting either customer service personnel or triggering automated actions such as installing firmware updates on a device.

  1. Organizations will need to evolve from Customer Service to Customer Engagement

A great deal of agencies will need to change from not only focusing on customer service but also focusing on customer engagement.  Customer Service Agents will be better supported with information, training, and tools to personalize the overall customer service experience.  For instance, when a new person is hired for a customer service role they are provided with extensive training regarding the different products they are supporting. In turn, existing customer service agents should have periodic refresher product training at least 3 to 4 times a year or whenever a new technology or product for the organization is released. This will ensure that overall customer engagement is more successful.

  1. The Growth of Mobile Technology and the Customer Service Experience

Today the growth of mobile technology is well underway with mobile usage exceeding PC usage by a large margin.  The same holds true for mobile advertising spending as businesses try to reach out to customers on the devices they are using every day. Organizations will continue to shift their mindset to mobile technology when providing customer service. Organizations will ultimately find better ways to incorporate this type of duty into their mobile apps and make the overall customer service experience easier. This is achieved by offering options such as in-app messaging which provides immediacy and convenience to customers.  Also, companies need to be able to connect with clients based on their location without having to ask. Customer Service Help Desks are provided information on a device’s location allowing them to determine which area of the country the customer is located to provide better service. This information will also help the corporate marketing teams reach out to clients and deploy ads that match their proximity to a brick-and-mortar location such as a department store. In conclusion, there many promising features and solutions which will shape customer service in 2016 and beyond.  This article only touches a few of these future service tools. With the continuing advancement in Mobile Technology and Social Networks, companies will soon realize the benefits and start developing their Customer Service strategies around these emerging technologies.

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