Can you trust technology with your precious customers?
The way we interact with our customers has changed significantly over recent years, and will continue to evolve as we welcome technology such as 5G and all the innovations that go with it. Although it’s often exciting to have new software or devices to play with, new technology can be approached with a degree of trepidation, particularly by SMEs whose margins are often tight and which often need a strong business case to justify new purchases.
Having said this, customer expectations are high, people have more choice, changing supplier is easy for your customer and the difference between keeping and losing them to a competitor could come down to a single customer services experience. With that in mind, what does the customer services experience look like in the coming years?
Video conferencing and virtual meetings
Face to face video communication will be commonplace and interactions will be increasingly lifelike. It’s entirely possible that a projection of your customer services rep or account manager could appear to be in the room with your customer, and could demonstrate Virtual Reality (VR) mock ups. This will mean that if, for example, your customer wants to see how a project will look in-situ or how to maintain or fix a product, it can be done using a ‘Virtual’ Customer services or technical support agent.
IM and social media
Email will become a thing of the past – customer interactions via instant messenger (IM) and social media through platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams are already common and will continue to grow. Bots will be able to hold initial conversations with customers, ensuring their query is routed to the correct department and that all their details are taken correctly. This will mean more ‘human’ time can be used to fix problems for customers.
Self-service will grow exponentially
We are already living in the age of self-service with the retail sector leading the way. Customers can now scan their own shopping using a smartphone as they go around some stores, and this isn’t limited to supermarkets, Boots, B&Q and other retailers are offering more ways for customers to pay, meaning their experience in store is smoother and quicker. We are likely to see a lot more of this in the next decade as the self-service revolution spreads into new sectors.
Customer services will be even more data driven than they are now. Insights about your customers’ contact preferences, their history with your company, their previous purchases, buying habits, clothes size and favourite brands will be available. Software will use that information to create a bespoke customer experience for each customer, every time.
Real-time updates for customers
Customers are increasingly ethically aware and some want to know the origins of every component of a purchase they make, and may also want to be kept aware of the location, conditions and individual journey of a product as it makes its way to the customer.
However, despite these developments, it is worth remembering that it will be a long time before technology will be a replacement for human interactions and that your people are often the ones that make the customer experience special for many – technology can just give them the tools to do their jobs in the best way they can.