How is Customer Service Changing?
Why is Now the Time to Invest in Customer Service?
Customer service is an integral part of any business. It is important to have a customer service team that can assist in a timely manner. If a customer has an issue with your product or service, they need to be able to get the help they need right away, recently due to costs and the increased development in technology customer service is more commonly outsourced to either AI or freelancers, both of which serves a purpose of keeping costs down while making a response time shorter however in a world where we as humans want answers now both these methods reduce an outcome being resolved quickly because although you can programme and flow chart the responses they take the human element out of the equation.
Investing in your customer service team, whether this is bringing in an experienced in-house manager to manage and continually train the team or investing in AI to respond to the more common queries that may not need human intervention, both options will save you money in the long run. Companies that have invested in their customer service team, have seen a higher return on investment and increased profit margins by returning customers who also recommend the company because of the good customer servic
Good vs Bad customer service
The customer service industry is often fraught with pros and cons. On one hand, you have the potential to make a lot of money and help people in their time of need, for example, in 2008 during the financial crisis, Starbucks revenue dropped by 30% as their customers chose to step away from paying for their caffeine intake taking an option to either make a coffee at home or waiting until they get to their office to reduce the costs in tight economic times. This meant that Starbucks over two years from 2008 - 2010 had to close almost 1000 stores.
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks decided to go back to the roots of Starbucks values by launching the ‘My Starbucks Idea’ where customers could contribute suggestions, what this did was put the customer at the centre of Starbucks once again and rather than telling the customer what they wanted, Howard Schultz and the entire Starbucks team decided to ask the customer what they wanted and give them that. The Starbucks customers were able to give opinions on everything such as the products that were sold, how services were delivered, cafe layout, advertising, corporate social responsibility, in-store music and so on. More than 93,000 ideas were shared by about 1.3 million users on social media, and social media page views per month rose to 5.5 million.
Howard and the team took more than 100 ideas and put these into reality within their stores building a concrete fan base, as the Starbucks customers could see that the company cared about their experience when they came into a store.
By focusing on customers, Starbucks changed its image from a corporate coffee chain to a community of coffee-loving people. With a renewed focus and an improved economy, Starbucks soon began to see strong growth.
On the other hand, the customer service industry can be incredibly demanding and challenging when dealing with an already aggravated customer that is demanding a lot, a company can be damaged by the simple act of not communicating the options that are available to the customer.
For example, I am sure that you have previously, at some point, had to call a company for mundane questions, a company's opening times when they are not listed on a website, only to be held on hold for several cycles of the Greensleeves song, only to be answered by an employee offering no empathy for the fact that you have been waiting for information that could have easily been published in several places to make the information easier for you and I imagine several other people to find on a daily or weekly basis but instead rather than apologising for the frustration you have endured you get a short, blunt answer, most probably turning you off to your experience of the business before you ever set foot in the building and get to make a rational decision about whether you would choose to return.
Customer Service Solutions
Customer service solutions can be a tricky thing. You want to make sure that you are providing the best possible customer service to your clients, but you also do not want to spend too much money or time on it.
Due to the innovative world we currently live in, many options to improve customer service solutions lean towards technical options.
Customer service software are programs that help businesses provide assistance and/or advice to the people who buy or use their products or interact with their services. The most basic role of customer service software is to provide a ticketing system which is a centralised system, where service agents can track, prioritise, manage, respond to, and resolve customer queries or employee requests en masse. This includes tools such as knowledge bases, messaging apps, automation software, analytics dashboards, and more.
However, does implement more technical infrastructure improve customer service or are we missing the basics of what good customer service is?
When Bailey Dean works with businesses to improve their customer service, before looking at the technical side of the business we want to make sure that what we are delivering is consistent with every customer using human nature.
We look at the entire customer journey of the business, identifying the key moments where things can and do go wrong. It is impossible to stop every negative experience that may come up in a customer experience however we believe that it is better to reduce these before trying to put a plaster over it.
The Current State of Customer Service In The Market
The customer service industry has seen a drastic change in recent years. With the emergence of new technologies, the demand for customer service is changing as well.
The general public is far more aware of the technology that businesses have at their fingertips, therefore they expect all businesses to operate at a higher level. Unlike ten years ago, companies now need to become obsessed with their client's wants and needs. The better that a business knows its customer the better it can deliver customer service, we are almost at a state where a business needs to know what the customer wants before they do. Knowing the customer in such detail means that the customer experience is frictionless. This is something that the likes of Netflix do so well with their algorithms of what to watch next, they know that if you had to keep scrolling to find something you would like to watch users would become disengaged and find another platform however by making the user experience easier they can keep people engaged for longer.
The current state of customer service is that it is still an important part of any company but it is not enough to be successful the example of this is that Netflix lost almost a million subscribers in the second quarter of 2022, why? There is more competition now than there was a few years ago with the likes of Apple TV, Disney+, Amazon Prime, etc. There is also the economic downturn meaning that people are more careful with their money and are less likely to go for a cheaper option unless there is something specific keeping them with that company.
These issues are not unique to a large organisation such as Netflix. One of our Bailey Dean consultants recently worked with a small individual making cakes for birthdays and weddings. During the covid lockdown, her trade almost dried up meaning that she had to momentarily get a job stacking shelves in the supermarket to replace her lost income, once beginning to exit the pandemic she started to work with Bailey Dean to rebuild her business to former glory but found that there was now a new demand of her services. Customers now wanted the cakes on shorter time scales. She was limited to what she could deliver being a sole trader but by reframing the customer journey and adding new technology into her offering she was able to rebuild her business in a short space of time.
In the future, companies will need to start by focusing on the core customer journey their customers go through before adding more AI-powered features to their services; however, by doing both in a systemised fashion all businesses regardless of size and market share will be able to keep up with competition and provide better customer experience.
What is the future of customer service?
In the age of the internet, customer service is more important than ever. Customers can easily research a company and its products before making a purchase, and they can easily share their experiences with others online. As a result, companies need to provide excellent customer service to stand out from the competition.
Different trends are becoming more common within the customer service market, some to watch over the next few years are -
Self-service, community-based service, and predictive support
Customers are more than ever becoming independent wanting to figure out their challenges without having to interact with the business only if they can do so without hassle or consequence therefore they will quite often turn to the pages or Reddit or social media asking other customers for their experiences and feedback.
Companies can therefore look at the trends of questions being asked and start to predict the needs of the customers. This requires the innovative use of data but providing “help” to customers before they know they need it is the holy grail of customer support.
The technology is coming where AI will be able to understand a person's emotions through their typing speed and the language they use, most of this technology at the moment is based on market research there will become a moment when this technology is used in customer service so that the customer service agents can adapt the script to the individual customer. Some support desks currently use ‘mood scripts’ to select the most relevant script however this is down to the call handlers' interpretation of the situation, when the AI technology catches up it will become significantly more reliable.
Customers are also moving away from the place where they want their situation resolved, as discussions continue then customers are looking for more empathetic communications from the businesses they interact with.
Rising customer expectations
With the increase in technology rising customer expectations are happening whether consciously or unconsciously to the business. If a customer does not get the experience they want then they will go and find another business that will give it to them. These businesses do not even have to be in the same niche for example, if a customer goes to another business whether big or small and gets a phenomenal customer experience they will then create a psychological benchmark that this is the standard that all the businesses must deliver if you do not then they will go and find another company that does deliver this.
What Is Your Business's Strategy For Maintaining Strong Quality Of Services In The Future?
The future of services will be increasingly reliant on technology. This means that companies who want to stay competitive will have to have a strategy for maintaining a strong quality of service in the future.
Some companies are using artificial intelligence as a way to increase the quality of their services. AI can help identify any issues with their products and provide solutions for them in real-time. It can also help with customer service by automatically answering questions and providing information about products, making it easier for customers to find what they need.
Companies need to make sure that they are staying up-to-date on how technology is changing so that they can use it to their advantage and ensure that they are providing the best possible service no matter what the future may hold.