Ah, January: the month of resolutions, crowded gyms, and empty pubs… Plus the inevitable wave of ‘2019 prediction’ blogs, covering everything from politics to design trends. Now, we’re no psychics – but we are a bunch who know a thing or two about customer experience.
So, instead of simply shouting about ‘2019 predictions’ in CX, we also decided to call out three definitive actions to take this year to elevate your customer service to the next level...
The prediction… Customer expectations will continue to rise. As consumers get used to brands providing exceptional round-the-clock service, such as same day delivery, it means our very perception of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ service radically changes.
Since we all want to try and make every customer story a happy one, striving to meet those expectations can only be a good thing. But it does place an extra burden on your contact agents – and we predict this will only get worse as 2019 progresses. In the struggle to provide 24/7 support, contact agents will become ever more time-poor and frazzled. Given that great CX starts with employee engagement, you’re going to need a well thought out (and well executed) strategy, if you’re going to keep employee engagement high and customer emotion positive.
The action… It’s simple – make life as easy (and as happy!) for contact agents as possible. Step into their shoes for the day and note down everything that causes unnecessary friction. This might mean you need to work on your culture, or it could be a case of investing in tech that speeds up everyday processes, helping your team work more productively.
For example, you might consider implementing or consolidating systems that give contact agents faster and more central access to essential information – for example, data that includes customer feedback, activity and history.
Manage your multi-channel messaging
The prediction… 2019 will also see a rise in social messaging, especially between brand and customer as they get used to ‘anytime, anywhere’ communication.
We don’t doubt this will expand across all social channels, with customers expecting speedy responses whether they’re tapping out a message on Facebook Messenger or ringing your call centre. But without the right strategy or technology in place, many brands will struggle to manage the uplift in contact and increase in channels – potentially resulting in damage to their CX.
The action… Prioritise sorting out the right technology to support multi-channel customer service. Before you do anything, ask yourself if you’re supporting your current channels effectively? If not, why is this and will adopting a new technology or channel improve service?
Do your due diligence and think strategically: if you could divert certain types of queries away from the call centre and towards social messaging, you could save valuable time and resource. Then, make sure you’ve got the processes and training in place to match, so your team can get the most out of any new investment.
Love and marriage, horse and carriage, humans and… AI?
The prediction… ‘AI is going to replace all the human jobs!’ Nope, that’s not our prediction – but it could be a genuine concern for contact agents, and it’s not hard to see why. The deployment of AI is front and centre for many brands across all sorts of sectors.
It’s certainly a hot topic in the CX world, whether it’s the introduction of virtual assistants or using machine learning for predictive analytics. While we’re not too concerned about the robots taking over, we do believe that brands need to ensure their experiences don’t suffer as a result, leading to a lack of empathy or connection. Nevertheless, we do think the use of AI will accelerate throughout 2019. Brands must tread carefully by ensuring the solution is right for them and implemented correctly (with a customer first approach).
The action… If you’re going to reap all of the benefits, you want to make sure that AI is supplementary to the work done by contact agents, as we discussed in this blog. Humans and AI should work hand in hand to enhance your CX, rather than simply suggesting that chatbots could replace contact agents. Not only can this improve customer emotion with faster, round-the-clock responses, you could even enhance employee engagement at the same time.
Think of it this way: this technology can be used to handle simpler requests, freeing up human agents to resolve more complex and more emotionally charged enquiries. Meaning less boring work, and more time spent productively resolving real issues – all of which links back nicely to making life easier and happier for your employees in the year to come.
Make it simple in 2019
Whatever happens in the year ahead, one thing is clear: customer expectations are going to keep getting higher, meaning your brand needs to start delivering more to customers. If you’re struggling with knowing where to start, simply prioritise the changes that make the most impact.
Review all of the tools and strategies available to you. Whether it’s investing in new technology, training up staff on new processes, or deploying AI effectively, the most important action you can take in 2019 is to make life easier for both your customers and employees. Remember, happy staff makes for happy customers – and the expectation of happier customers is one prediction we can all get behind.