3 Customer Service Predictions for 2017
What better way to kick off our blog in the new year, than a textbook “predictions of 2017” post. Don’t worry though, these aren’t some unrealistic, robot and AI infused predictions, these actionable points will guide you through the coming year in customer service and customer experience.
Perhaps the most discussed phrase in all of customer service, offering true omni-channel customer service, and enabling a single view of the customer has been the goal of many brands and retailers. 2016 saw many customer service departments achieve that goal, and while many others are still playing catch up, we predict that in 2017, omni-channel will become standard practice. Looking at the topic; Omni-channel via Google Trends, we can see consistent year on year growth in activity under the topic over the past 5 years. We can also see that there is a slight levelling of interest towards the end of 2016. Is this a sign of omni-channel standardisation in 2017?
Due to the increasing popularity of social media and messenger tools with consumers, 2017 will see the further adoption of new contact platforms, including Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and even Snapchat. Facebook’s messenger platform was officially launched as a viable customer support platform back in 2016, and brands with younger customers such as ASOS have quickly adopted the channel effectively. One of the many advantages of using Facebook Messenger is the availability of thousands of Chat Bots, which can automate replies and offer a human-like, natural customer service experience with customers. We’ve even seen bots which can reply with videos, images, gifs, and emojis, which help to offer an on-brand, personalised customer experience. Expect to see more and more brands adopting messenger tools as integral parts of their customer support offer in 2017.
Re-shoring of Customer Service
For the past decade, the trend amongst brands with large scale customer service departments has been been in international outsourcing. However, over the past 18 months, this trend is beginning to reverse, with Brexit potentially increase the growth in re-shoring of customer service teams. We saw how the world’s largest weight management service; Weight Watchers re-shored their customer service operation to Spark Response back in December 2016, creating 50 jobs in our contact centre. This followed announcements from telecoms giants EE and BT, who both announced plans to create 1000 customer service roles back in the UK respectively. PWC recently estimated that the re-shoring trend could create up to 200,000 extra UK jobs over the next decade, and boost the national output by up to £12billion by the mid 2020’s. Although not a prediction as such, our overall opinion is that digital now rules customer service. Of course, the phone will always have its place for more complex queries, but the growth in new media is here. The challenge for brands and retailers is to not only be aware of the growth in new customer service tools, but to quickly and effectively adopt them as new contact channels as part of an integrated customer experience offering.