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December 6, 2017 | By

Who Will Win the Customer Service Game in 2018?

By now it’s no big secret that customer experience is a key differentiator for brands in all industries.  It doesn’t matter if you sell carpets or computers, insurance or groceries, how a customer views a brand (and ultimately whether they will continue to do business with it) is a direct result in their experience.   In fact, a recent study suggests that well more than half of consumers say that customer satisfaction was more important than price when doing business with a company.  Customers have been shouting their demands from the rooftops – but have companies listened?   Some have – but some haven’t.  According to that same study, 30% of companies are still more focused on reducing the cost of customer support than customer satisfaction.   That’s a really big number.

Customer experience and satisfaction is all encompassing.  Do they like your website?  Can they find what they are looking for quickly?  Is the buying experience easy and secure?   A pivotal part of customer the experience, however is customer support.  Once they’ve bought a product, how does the company respond when there are issues or questions?   That’s also not that great.  The research also found that nearly one-third of consumers said that support took a long time to resolve their issue and 24% suggested that their issues were never fixed.  With customer support showing a direct link to the growth and success of a company, what can these brands do to make support a competitive advantage?

Provide Frictionless Support:

More than anything, when someone calls in for support they are happiest when their experience is simple, fast and painless.  More technologies are moving to web-based platforms, and with this shift, support teams can leverage lighter-weight weight tools that are easy to use and allow them to quickly see what is going on, without needing to install heavy software or have multiple applications running on a customer’s device.

Think Mobile:

The world between desktop operating systems and mobile devices is starting to blur together. Customers now assume that what you can do on one device, you can do across all devices, and this mindset applies to the support they receive for every device they use.  Leaving out the mobile user is leaves a company at a huge disadvantage.

Allow Support Teams to Work Smarter:

Today’s customer is all about personalization.  Support teams need to know who their customers are, the products they have, previous issues, their history with the brand – all before they jump on the phone.  Today, the issue isn’t a lack of data, it’s that the data isn’t always easy to find, sort, and use.  Working with tools and systems that can integrate with one another and bi-directionally transfer the right information to the agent will be key.

Embrace Self-Service:

Deflection to self-service was once seen as a cost-saving mechanism but support organizations are now seeing self-service become the desired channel for problem resolution. It’s safe to assume that once a customer finally contacts the help desk, they’ve already spent time trying to solve the problem on their own. Companies will be challenged to maintain an up-to-date, useful, intuitive help center.  Artificial intelligence is helping to aid these efforts – helping customers quickly find the answers they need and helping support agents deliver better, more personalized service.  Organizations that adopt AI technologies effectively will realize greater cost-savings and deliver faster solutions to customers’ requests.

The customer support game is changing faster than ever before.  Companies will surely win or lose based on how prepared their service and support teams are to handle these new customer requirements.   Looking to 2018, I think we’ll see a number of companies headed in the direction of simpler, frictionless support – and it’s those companies that will ultimately triumph in the end.

Want to learn more?  Check out our new whitepaper: “Support Services as a Competitive Differentiator”

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