After a volatile year, one thing is certain: customer service matters more than ever before. As customer expectations continue to evolve, customer service trends are adapting at pace. Businesses from all industries must keep up with emerging customer service experience trends to meet customer expectations and foster better customer relationships which is critical for remaining competitive in the respective market.
In this blog post, we will explore the most exciting and innovative customer service experience trends to keep an eye on in 2024. Get ready to dive deep into the future of customer service and discover the strategies that will set your brand apart.
Customer service developments in the recent past
In recent years, there has been a revolutionary shift in how customer service and customer experience are approached in all industries. Here, we highlight some of the most recent industry advancements observed in the last 5 years:
Emphasis on customer experience over product: The new focus is to differentiate your brand from others by offering total customer experience over price and product. Nearly 96% of customers interviewed reveal customer experience is their prime motivator when choosing the companies to support. Besides, 86% of buyers note that they would pay more for a better customer experience, according to PWC. This means that customer service teams need to identify and respond to customer expectations, determine potential issues, and resolve them before turning them into significant complaints.
Use of AI-powered agents: Technological advancements have enabled the integration of AI in tools for customer service, AI-powered agents, for example, help dig into historical data and predict future customer needs. This new development automates call center agents' tasks and frees human service teams from mundane, repetitive tasks to deal with more complex issues that require a human touch.
Security protocols: With rising cases of cybercrime, security certifications and protocols are now a priority, especially with the revelation hackers primarily target organizations with rich customer data. Customers are more likely to trust organizations that pair privacy and security with valuable personalized service.
The popularity of self-service: More customers embrace the "self-serve" principle, with many turning to videos and readily available resources to resolve their inquiries. According to a Zendesk survey, 69% of customers try solving their problems themselves before they contact any support agent.
What is an excellent customer service experience?
As customer expectations continue to evolve, a one-size-fits-all or standardized approach to customer care no longer seems adequate. Apart from demanding friendly service, today's customers expect and appreciate a personalized response that reduces any friction or situational stress.
As a business, you need to anticipate customer needs early and offer highly personalized service based on the individual needs and preferences of the customer. Businesses should remember that human nature demands human connections laced with a higher degree of empathy.
However, this doesn't mean we do away with AI technology in its entirety. Instead, supplement the technology with human interaction, interpretation, and support. When you deliver a personalized experience across all service levels, you succeed in building trust and loyalty among your customers. This ultimately results in more fulfilling experiences among your support teams and staff.
8 Trends to Watch in Customer Service Experience in 2024
Discover the latest trends shaping the future of the customer service experience.
Trend 1 - Proactive vs. Reactive customer service
The new norm in customer care is to adopt a more proactive than reactive customer service. Businesses must identify potential problems in advance and predict their occurrence to guarantee more positive experiences for customers. The following are some of the tips for adopting proactive customer service:
Institute proactive customer experience
With statistics showing over 50% of consumers will shift to another brand if companies don't routinely anticipate their needs, there is a need for you to predict customer needs and arrest potential problems before they become major complaints. The major goal of proactive customer experience is to foresee the kind of help customers may require before they even ask. This enables teams to solve potential issues at source in a timely and efficient manner that guarantees an excellent customer experience. Besides, a brand needs to minimize inconveniences in every possible way and keep customers abreast of the actions being taken to address their issues. In a nutshell, there is a need to create awareness by ensuring there is a free flow of information from the company to the consumer to help change potential negative experiences into positives.
Break down company silos
Consider integrating the customer service team system, billing system, customer management system, and operations team with AI analytics to predict when and what kind of problems may occur effectively. Combining technology and human expertise empowers your team to proactively address issues and turn potential negative experiences into positives. It also provides the platform to achieve brand loyalty.
- Consider running CRM through a clustering tool such as Impact Reporting. This helps you determine whether repeat occurrences exist that could hamper a customer's journey.
- Review and evaluate potential techniques to improve existing procedures and predict and preempt potential problem areas.
Trend 2 - Customer Service Embedded in Company Culture
Good customer service is one of the key ingredients for business growth. Effective customer service is imperative to achieve growth in revenue and gain market share and must therefore be embedded in the company culture with a top-down approach.
Recent studies reveal that 79% of contact center leaders plan to invest in greater AI capabilities within two years. Leaders must make fostering a service-focused company culture an equal priority to investment in CX technology in order to bring a service mindset to those employees on the front line and gain a competitive advantage from it. True service excellence takes investment and culture to run like a well-oiled machine.
- Keep up with recent customer service trends, including AI and virtual agents for customer service. Ensure you are one step ahead of your competition to reap new rewards.
- Ensure customer service is integral to every part of the business, is a prominent facet of the mission statement, and is constantly a topic of discussion during company meetings.
Trend 3 - Customer experience automation
Automation is now the new normal regardless of your industry. If you don't embrace automated approaches, you will likely be left out sooner rather than later. A Data and AI Leadership Executive Survey found that 90% of companies reported that they are planning to deploy AI in 2022. This means that nearly 40% of all customer interactions will be automated through AI and machine learning. As technology delivers more convenience to our daily lives, virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri will continue to optimize interactions your brand has with customers. A new study of Millennials and Gen Z shows over 60% of individuals in those age groups prefer the help of a virtual assistant or AR/VR support rather than speaking to a live agent via telephone whenever they encounter software-related issues.
- If automation is in your plans, go for a virtual agent that uses NLP, optimized to comprehend and respond to any inquiry.
- Implement an automation solution that enables you to train, monitor, and manage your virtual assistant
Trend 4 - Personalization & Customer Data Protection
Personalizing customer experience may not be possible without the transmission of customer data. Transparency and security are integral parts of the individualized experiences that you wish to provide to your clients. With cases of businesses being hacked for personal data, customers are security conscious and are much savvier than ever regarding potential threats to data theft. It is crucial that you become transparent regarding how you collect and store customers' personal information. Safe handling of personal data must be prioritized such as data encryption, 2-factor authentication, and security certifications should be maintained to guarantee enhanced consumer trust. Sanitize all personal information for security to ensure you deliver personalization without compromising personal privacy.
- Evaluate security protocols and certifications regularly to protect your company and customers
- Find out how integrating back-office systems such as an order management system (OMS) or CRM can personalize customer experience without risks of security breaches.
Trend 5 - Self-Service Solutions
Some of the new expectations to keep in mind include an insistence on ethical practices, convenience, and purpose. Consequently, you need to prioritize convenience, 24-7 availability of products and information, next-day delivery, and unmatched customer service. One way to deliver convenience is self-service solutions, customers (Gen Z in particular) want to be able to solve their own problems quickly and easily, so companies will need to provide self-service options that are user-friendly and accessible. In fact, Vanilla Forums found that 77% of customers say they view brands more positively if they provide self-service options for customers looking for support.
- Empower customers to self-serve whenever it is convenient for them. You can provide an FAQ section on your website that gathers repetitive inquiries.
- Automate routine requests that customers have. Run your CRM through Impact Report to determine the most frequent inquiries. This will help you establish ways to address them.
- Customers are 2.4 times more likely to stick with a brand when their problems are solved quickly (Forrester)
Trend 6 - A holistic 24/7 approach
A holistic approach to CX means transforming your customer experience into multilingual, multi-market, 24/7 support. The vision for the future is undoubtedly shifting from omnichannel to a more holistic, company-wide approach. As more brands make this shift, there is a need to integrate diverse customer-focused functions to better nurture the total customer journey. This future trend demands robust internal communications to guarantee an end-to-end process improvement.
- Determine what mix of tech and human service agents can meet the needs of your customers around the clock.
- Hold regular meetings between sales and marketing teams together with the company's customer experience teams. Create shared goals and come up with follow-through techniques. Additionally, come up with better ways to streamline your customer experience.
- If you plan to enter a new market, determine whether a multilingual AI technique can cut implementation costs while effectively facilitating your expansion.
Trend 7 - Immersive Experiences
Customers today want to shop and interact with their favorite brands on their favorite channels. It's not more and more commonplace to buy from brands on Instagram or TikTok shop, to text or instant message with a company, and to seek out businesses that promote inclusion or environmental projects.
According to Customer Support SaaS company, Zendesk, 77% of business leaders have seen positive ROI on investments in immersive experiences. So what does immersive CX mean? Immersive CX is defined by customer interactions that are fluid and natural whether humans or multiple technological touchpoints deal with them.
- Look to test out and implement your presence on different channels, including instant messaging apps.
- Invest in the most human-like AI chatbot your business can afford in order for customers to receive helpful responses in real time that mimic human interaction.
- Break down silos within your organization by integrating CX teams and technology.
Trend 8 - Emotionally Intelligent customer service agents
Customer experience is now a well-regarded and rewarding career, especially when companies integrate systems that allow for collaboration between humans and machines. Live chats, emails, and phone calls are now indispensable tools to improve customer experience. However, the future points to a higher prioritization of teams that leverage well-trained professional agents in addition to digital tools and predictive technology.
In essence, customer support teams should now be given the support and recognition they rightly deserve. Companies will need to prioritize emotional intelligence (EQ) in their customer service interactions, training their employees to be empathetic and to handle sensitive situations with care and understanding. Generally, happy agents translate to happier customers. Businesses need to realign their budgets and provide agents with better tools to produce more effective teams.
- Recruit with EQ as a first priority over IQ.
- Provide robust training for service agents and managers - highlight the importance of empathy and people-centricity when dealing with customers.
- Consider membership in professional bodies like the International Customer Service Association. Attend insightful conferences that keep you well-informed on emerging trends.
How is customer service changing?
Customers crave fast and convenient service, but they also long for empathy and dedication to the issues that truly matter to them. Personalization is key, but customers are more inclined to support companies that are upfront and transparent about their policies.
Meeting these high customer expectations is especially challenging during this time, but it can make all the difference between retaining loyal customers or losing them. Companies that invest in innovative solutions to improve efficiency and quickly adapt to changing customer preferences will be well-equipped to navigate any future challenges that may lie ahead.
Get professional help
Every brand wants to be known for providing excellent customer service. As recent statistics show, customer service is a crucial differentiator. When done well, it has a substantial impact on the success of your business.