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Customer Service Trends for 2015

It’s time to look ahead to see what 2015 has in store for the world of customer service. Here is what I foresee happening this year.

Service is the new marketing.Steven Thurlow

This has never been truer than now and will accelerate in 2015. It is critical for an organization to sustainably meet customers’ expectations and support them through their journey — the so-called “zero-eth moment of truth.” The reputation a brand has is more than its products, and points to not only the measure of customer-centricity, but also to the ethos of the brand itself.  Organizations are now challenged on how they put their operation (money) where their marketing (mouth) is. Customer service is a key barometer of this, and the recommendation of one customer to the next is not just about service and product, but also about experience, journey and fair value exchange.

Engagement is multidimensional and long lasting.

Customer service is now about solutions, outcomes and the consumer’s outcomes along with the organization’s. Engagement reflects a choice made by the customer to interact with an organization, its products and services and to participate in the exchange of value on their terms, or as close as they can get it. Engagement is built moment by moment, journey by journey, and experience by experience — and it is about expectations, excellence and values.

Multimodal is key.

Channels have proliferated; the rise of chat (as described by Esteban Kolsky) has been powerful and rapid. Chat is a fascinating channel as it embodies the human and the digital, and opens up multiple modes (webpage or app and textual conversation). The immediacy of the chat environment, combined with the auditability and human factor, can be an effective mix. The addition of co-browse, click-to-call and video are all modes that can (and should easily) be added to a chat. Organizations must be adaptive, not only to consumer choice but also to the context. A lot of chat installations have focused on the buying journey, but the good ones have moved from merely selling to facilitating the consumer to buy – to help serve them.

Let consumers define their experiences.

One of the emerging trends is to give the consumer charge over their environment. We are all familiar with selecting electronic rather than paper bills for our cell phone, but what about the rest of the process? Why not give the customer control over usage alerts, billing cycles, monthly fee bundles, rollovers, upgrades and tax assessments? An organization can show the customer the journey they are on and give them the points of control and preferences. The key to this is trust. Organizations need to earn it and with it will come partnership.

Turn information into Actionable Intelligence®.

Analytics remains key to deriving holistic insight, which includes journeys, sentiment, voice of the customer, outcomes and intent, along with operational performance measures and core transactional data. Organizations must use the “dark data” of process performance, mixed with customer feedback and intent, to fully embrace the entire customer journey. And they must have the agility to act on it. Intelligence must be actionable. Organizations have been getting faster and simpler, but they also need to get smarter – in the moment and along the entire journey.

Be proactive to your customer’s benefit, not yours.

Proactive communication can be a powerful tool. If you do it well, it has a great effect on customer loyalty and engagement — their choice to do business with you. If you do it wrong – either by being inappropriate or wrong in tone, volume and relevance – you create the opposite effect. Proactive process alerts (“Your order has shipped.”) have become the norm and are appreciated by customers. But, not so much for marketing offers. The difference here is about understanding consumer value rather than organization value. An organization can monitor the customer journey. But when choosing to be proactive, who is the value for? A note offering a better rate based on usage to save you money is going to be received differently than a sales campaign.

This is how I see 2015 unfolding. What do you think?

The post Customer Service Trends for 2015 appeared first on Customer Experience Management Blog.

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