According to a 2013 American Express Service study, out of 1,620 consumers, 63% said they felt an increase in their heart rate when they thought about receiving great customer service. Perhaps even more intriguing, receiving great service triggered the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved for 53% of those tested. Needless to say, first-rate customer service is critical to fostering brand loyalty in today’s consumers. The following five customer service trends are examples of how business can rev up their current tactics to meet the needs of modern consumers.
1. All Customers Are Now Multichannel Users
In order to stand out from the competition, businesses should strive to make themselves readily available to consumers via multiple channels of communication. With global smartphone use expected to reach two billion in 2015, it is crucial for businesses to adapt to their customers’ communication preferences. A study conducted by HeyWire Business, a mobile messaging service, found that 52% of respondents preferred text messaging to their current means of customer service communication. Additionally, 53% of respondents aged 18 to 34 preferred electronic media (email, social media, text messaging, web chat, etc.) over traditional phone calls for customer service support. Companies can better prepare for jumps in communication channels by consumers if they use cloud technologies that track users. Instead of being stored on a home computer, data from consumers’ mobile devices, tablets, and other devices can be saved in the cloud. Data from consumers’ mobile devices that is pushed to the cloud can provide businesses with valuable information about consumer behaviors. Adapting to their consumers’ customer service preferences is a great way for businesses to cultivate brand loyalty, thus increasing sales.
2. Advanced Social Support Is Becoming More Prominent
Simply being present on various social media platforms is no longer enough for businesses looking to showcase their customer service capabilities. Real-time answers to customers’ questions via social media is on the rise in 2015. An example of such instantaneous service help is demonstrated in a Forbes article written by contributor Blake Morgan. She writes that some companies are using Twitter to provide custom links that directly connects the consumer with an agent who can resolve the issue at hand. This example demonstrates how customer service communication can take place on a variety of platforms.
3. Webcam-Enabled Customer Service Tactics
Many consumers find traditional phone or web-based customer service tactics to be ineffective. However, some progressive companies are now providing face-to-face interaction with customer service representatives using a webcam instead of traditional communication outlets. An example a company employing this tactic is online retail giant Amazon, who features a “Mayday” button on its Fire Phone smartphone and Kindle Fire HDX tablet. This one-tap application instantly connects users to a customer service representative via use of a webcam. The average response time for the Mayday button is less than 10 seconds; the feature has become wildly popular amongst Fire Phone and Kindle Fire HDX owners.
4. Rewarding Employees Who Reward Customers
A customerthink.com article by Richard Shapiro, Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR), notes 15 customer service trends that will become prevelent in 2015. One of these trends is the ability by organizations to reward their employees who provide excellent customer service. Having a reward program in place for employees who excel in this area should be an important part of any company’s business model. This is especially true since customer loyalty often begins and ends at the employee level.
5. Response Time Is Equally Important As The Actual Response
Another trend that Shapiro highlights is an organization’s ability to deliver answers to consumers’ questions as quickly and efficiently as possible. The lag time between a customer’s question and the correct answer to that question is a major indicator or an organization’s commitment to customer service. Jeff Toister of Toister Performance Solutions, Inc. performed an email response time survey in 2014 and found that customers expect an email response to their question within four hours. Moreover, research conducted by social media experts Jay Baer, Jason Falls, Mark Schaefer, and Tom Webster has revealed that 42% of customers using social media platforms as a customer service mechanism expect a response to their problem within an hour. Fast responses to questions makes customers feel important, which in turn boosts their opinion of the company they are dealing with.
With so many choices available to them, consumers are quick to jump ship if they are unhappy with a company’s current offerings. Businesses need to be aware of the fact that consumers are now communicating their customer service needs through a variety of mediums and expect their issues to be resolved in less than twenty-four hours. Furthermore, since great customer service is key to fostering brand loyalty, employees who excel in this area deserve recognition in order to keep their morale high. To maintain a competitive edge in today’s marketplace, businesses should strive to differentiate themselves by being mindful of the most current trends in customer service.
Victoria is a Marketing Associate at Repsly, where she leads the company's P.R. and social media efforts. You can also catch her prepping for slew of exciting industry events. A New England native, Victoria has spent time living in Italy and traveling throughout Europe before settling back in Boston. When she's not planning her next trip, V is probably tasting wine or brushing up on her Italian.