The five most powerful trends in customer service

Marketing and customer service departments need to work together more than ever before, writes Arlene Wherrett.

Omni-channel is omnipresent

The latest advent in the industry, omni-channel, is about providing the same experience across all channels, and is largely dictated to enterprise by the customer. Every interaction a customer has with a brand should be consistent and intuitive.

There are at least 12 channels at present that are vital to the success of a contact centre: phone, email, fax, SMS, chat, social, web, mobile, portal/community, client app, YouTube and video.

Email was the first in a chain of channels to be introduced to the contact centre; more and more companies are investing in integrating these channels to communicate with customer how and when they want. In addition to improved efficiencies, one of the main returns is improved customer satisfaction and retention.

Self-service is paramount for customer satisfaction

As customer expectations continue to evolve, as do the efforts of companies in keeping up with demand. The proliferation of self-service is by far the most vital recent development; it is expected that companies will provide a level of self-service.

The most successful companies are also adept at tapping into their customer community base to help provide a service and feedback. Take Amazon for example: it not only provides some of the best self-service in the world, it even has its customers help answer questions. When a question is asked about a product, an email is generated automatically and sent to purchasers of that product, asking for their insights, outsourcing a large aspect of the service line.

Digital platform solutions, such as Salesforce Communities, enable this type of innovation to be easily integrated into a contact centre, enable these conversation to occur organically. The platform provides a powerful option for engaging customers with other customers, and with service representatives.

Cloud telephony is everywhere

VoIP is an example of how cloud has seamlessly and almost unnoticeably integrated into the everyday functions of a business (and even household). The service is disruption at its finest; it is, for all intents and purposes, undetectable and a huge value-add in terms of price point. However, the real value comes from the functionality it provides to support the management of a business, particularly from a customer service point of view.

VoIP protocols are able to integrate and collaborate with other applications such as email, web browser, instant messenger and social-networks; creating synergy and offering valuable services to the end user and the customer. This can be of particular benefit across contact centres as social listening takes on more importance in the customer service line.

Data-driven decisions are the future

With the growth of omni-channel, aggregating the data from across all customer service platforms offers a huge range of business opportunities.

Projections are no longer the domain of the economists; contact centre leaders are looking to analyse, predict, and act on data and trends. The volume of data available on customers opens up a myriad of opportunities for enterprises.  Those that are able to analyse data (for instance, handle time, first call resolution, or time to resolution), then act on it in order to address issues will certainly come out on top.

Marketing and service must align

Both marketing and service have their domains, but with the advent and continued growth of social, the lines are blurring. Marketing is no longer just responsible for customer acquisition, just as service is no longer responsible for customer support.

Leading marketers are expanding their focus to include customer engagement across the entire customer lifecycle. Bluewolf’s State of Salesforce report found that 65% of marketers are measured on customer retention, and 57% are measured on cross-sell and upsell. Because of this, marketers need to work with their counterparts in service closer than ever before.

Arlene Wherrett is managing director APAC of Bluewolf.