From Machine Learning to Social Media – The Top Customer Care Trends of 2016
By Tim Joyce, Chief Innovation Officer, Xerox Customer Care
Customer care is getting more personal but the leading
trends emerging in 2016 indicate that smart machines may be key in driving the
pursuit of individualized service.
The entire industry is being transformed by smarter
technology. From an influx of connected devices to improved use of analytics,
the consumer’s expectations of how, when, and where they receive service from
their preferred brands is shifting.
These trends emerged in part from Xerox’s recent report on The
State of Customer Service, a survey of over 6,000 consumers that found
customer care interactions are growing increasingly important to customers, yet
there is underlying dissatisfaction across sectors, locations and ages. While
the trends are expected to make their appearance in 2016, they’re trends that
will continue for the next decade.
It’s clear that the relationships between consumers and
brands will change radically over the next five years. Customers expect a high
quality of service and technology is maturing to the point where brands can
efficiently meet those needs.
Here is a look at some of the top trends for 2016 – and
1. Social media support steps up
Today, consumers have low expectations that they can have
their problems solved by contacting their preferred brand via social media. In
fact, less than five percent of support interactions across technology,
telecommunications and media sector were conducted on via social channels – a
number that indicates consumers don’t actually recognize their engagement with
brands on social media as support interactions.
But social networks are working to make their platforms more
useful for customer service purposes. For instance, Twitter
recently introduced features to make the processes of direct messaging and
collecting feedback from consumers more streamlined. Similarly, Facebook page managers
now have a new, redesigned
message inbox at their fingertips to help them manage conversations more
effectively. Brands that embrace social customer care will see a positive
impact on their overall brand satisfaction and improve their customers’
2. The Internet of Things
enables ‘machine-to-machine’ customer care
Consumers will soon be surrounded by connected devices that
collect data, process the information and eventually analyze the knowledge.
This transformation will make ‘machine-to-machine’ care a reality where
customers don’t need to initiate their own service or upgrade. Instead, tools
like Virtual Agent technology within connected devices will hold conversations
with each other, working to seamlessly correct issues – perhaps before they
even become apparent to the customer.
Wearable devices that will be connected to other machines
will be important to the growth of this service. While only 6.3 percent of
those surveyed by Xerox currently own a wearable device, the category is poised
for accelerated adoption.
3. Brands become omni-present
Omni-presence is a distant, more refined cousin of
omni-channel. It is an admission that brands cannot be effective on every
single channel, but can use advanced analytics to ensure presence in the places
most aligned with their customers’ preferences.
The Xerox survey found brands will need to partner with
service providers that have experience in a variety of channels and an underlying
knowledge management technology that connects the dots, making each support
interaction a part of the same, coherent conversation.
4. Customer care agent becomes a
The call center will change dramatically over the next
decade due to the growth and adoption of automation. This shift will relieve
professionally-trained agents of the transactional, repetitive interactions
that dominate today’s call centers and allow them to become more emotionally
invested in fewer customers who need the most support. With automated options
addressing routine transactions, the customer care professional can focus on
callers who require the judgment and empathy only an agent can provide.
Consumers are already comfortable with this shift. In fact,
41.6 percent of those surveyed predict that by 2025, there will be no need to
contact a call center.
Companies have a huge opportunity to take the lead and
position themselves at the heart of their customers’ worlds. But time is of the
essence. The last 10 years have set a lightning pace. A pace consumers have
grown accustomed to; a pace they expect. Companies must now approach service
changes as they have technological innovation: Boldly and with haste.