Customer care is on the verge of a major change. Not only are there more technological possibilities, also a changing customer leads inevitably to a revulsion in customer service. Customers want to be served better through the channel of their choice. Oh, and as soon as possible!
The end customer is more demanding and the organisation has struggled to meet the requirements of this' new end customer to meet. " The market shows convulsions; the organisation is trying, but the attempts are not always well executed and organisations do not know what to do and why they do something. There are many parties who thought to have provided the solution. However, this was not always the case and these parties disappear just as quickly as they came.
It's not so much that something went wrong in customer care 1.0. The old customer contact has been unchanged for decades, innovation has virtually stopped. There are a lot of people simply staring at screens and follow a pre-programmed script. Now, with the rise of social channels and a changing end-customer, you see that some parties would like to bring a disruptive product to the market. That has an enormous impact on a industry that saw virtually no innovation.
In recent years, many channels have joined the game. Think of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram. Contrary to what is claimed, the number of customer contacts rises proportionally. From there, the desire emerged to react on basic issues automatically. This way, the ideal situation can be created for an organisation: present on all channels, with the same commitment. This is a technique that is emerging , but also raising several questions and uncertainties by organisations and their employees.
In addition, the customers expect more. Direct answers, a short wait and the use of their favourite channels score high on customer care ratings. Furthermore, the mindset is changing. People are less likely to choose the lowest price and tend to prefer a service-aware organisation. There is a transformation going: from a transactional operation to a relational operation. The relationship is decisive.
Technology has always supported people in how they contact customers. Think of call scripts, creating meeting notes, et cetera. Only when we as customers became a lot more demanding, the customer service industry turned to technology to fill the gaps. And with the rise of social media and Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovation in customer service made a big step.
As said, there is a shift from a transactional business to a relational business. Here I also believe in themselves. The organisations that focus on the duration of a call, will not survive. Take time for your customer and make sure you leave a satisfied customer. Only then they will come back. A personal, proactive approach always scores in customer service.
Put the customer first and abandon the maximum-time-per-customer. 'Putting off' a customer as soon as possible is outdated. Ensure that the response is good, but, above all, ensure that the customer is satisfied and feels taken seriously. This requires an approach that is personal, something that often is not supported by many customer service processes.
Social messaging and social media channels are effective because they are much more accessible to the end customer. Within customer care they are not a whim, even though the hype has been the development of a 'social' momentum. Suddenly, everyone started ‘doing something’ with WhatsApp. An organisation often joined in it because ‘the competitor is doing it too’ and thus they began to see the added value.
Sustainability is just like everything else in the tech industry: innovation and disruption bring new opportunities, but also the end of existing products and services. I think that ‘social’ remains an important form of customer contact, but through what channels and in what way remains to be seen.
Regardless of the channel, customer contact is always personal. The next two years, the personal aspect will mainly be back by pro-activity. There’s no need for the customer to provide an order number, for instance. Systems already know this by using a phone number or email address. Also, customers will always speak with the same customer service representative: this will build relationships.
Another new trend emerges: voice-driven customer contact. The 'Home assistants' like Alexa and Google Home are becoming increasingly popular. In the future, it is therefore possible to say 'Hey Alexa, can you file a complaint about the TV I bought? The resolution is not correct."
In the future, customers find it not at all strange to give a robot orders, as described above. In the end, it's about the result and how the customer has been served. If a home assistant dissolves a problem, it will be experienced as a personal assistant.
This article was also published on the website Customer First! (In Dutch)
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