Latest Customer Service Innovations (in 2020)
We round up the most exciting innovations in the customer service industry for 2020.
Top Learnings From This Article:
- Most of your customers expect you to respond to them within a day -- and nearly half expect a response within an hour.
- IVAs can handle any number of customer service requests, and can also be programmed to automate dynamic processes.
- Hyperpersonalisation means that your IVA or agents adapt to your customer’s needs in real time -- and that requires machine assistance.
- Customer service teams are changing drastically, with the evolution of superagents, internal automation experts teams, conversation writers, and an altogether newfound importance within the company.
Well folks, it’s been quite the year. Yes, 2020 has had its share of downs -- what with a global pandemic, recession, borders closing, and international travel all but coming to a standstill.
But if you’re like us over here at ultimate.ai, you’re looking for a glass half-full perspective for the customer service industry, and that’s exactly what this article aims to give you.
The fact is, this year has also had its share of wins in the customer service department. AI has advanced in a big way, and alongside that, customer service teams are being introduced to new, more efficient, and more effective ways of keeping their customers happy -- at any scale. Let’s take a look at the most exciting customer service innovations we’ve seen in 2020.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ll have noticed new customer service channels starting to open up across social media networks. Brands are now expanding their customer touchpoints onto the likes of Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and many more.
Customers are looking to do things on social media like process returns and book appointments. Look at Sephora -- the well-known beauty brand’s Facebook chatbot helps customers make appointments in nearby stores, gives feedback, and can also connect the customer with a human agent.
And the move to social couldn’t have come soon enough. Most of your customers expect you to respond to them within a day -- and nearly half expect a response within an hour. And did you know that as many as 81% of Twitter users who don’t get a reply from the company they’ve contacted will not recommend that company to a friend?
But you can’t just be on social media -- your customers these days demand that you maintain an omnichannel presence across all touchpoints. They want a completely seamless customer service experience, which means that if they contact you via Facebook Messenger, Twitter, email, and Whatsapp, all conversations should be responded to on-platform, promptly, with the full context of the conversations taking place on other channels, and all information recorded in their file.
IVAs take over frontline of customer service
Forget the frustrating chatbots of yesteryear. Intelligent Virtual Assistants kick things up a notch -- or 10. Fueled by AI in the form of Natural Language Processing (which helps the machine read, understand, and respond to your customers in natural human language) and deep learning (which means the machine can remember and recollect past conversations in full context), these powerful machines are increasingly being deployed at the frontlines of customer service teams.
They can be programmed to handle your team’s most common customer queries -- often as much as 80% of the total requests. This thereby frees up your human agents to take on the more challenging and complex customer tasks that require a different kind of intelligence.
The main advantages of IVAs is that they allow you to keep up with your demanding customers, who expect you to respond to their requests in real time -- even during peak hours and seasons when your team is completely slammed. These smart assistants can handle any number of customer service requests, and can also be programmed to automate dynamic processes, like checking account numbers, application statuses, and return requests.
Here are just a few of the tasks an IVA can help your customers with:
- Help navigating your website
- Help with common service requests (order tracking, etc.)
- Collect customer input to pass along to a human representative
- Make reservations
- Give customers ideas for purchase inspiration
- Offer discounts
- Upsell to higher packages or more products
- Collect visitor emails
There’s a lot of talk about hyperpersonalisation these days, but what exactly does this buzzword mean? Well, it’s a lot more than just addressing your customer by name. Hyperpersonalisation is usually talked about from a marketing or CX perspective. In the customer service context, the concept means that your IVA or agents adapt to your customer’s needs in real time -- and that requires machine assistance.
That’s why this drive towards hyperpersonalisation is being led by advancements in AI. Since true, real-time 360-degree customer personalisation in this form requires huge amounts of data, anyone considering pursuing this route will need to develop one hell of a data strategy. Sophisticated CRM software, which collects and organises customer data (personal details, purchase history, service preferences, etc.) can help -- and indeed, is now more important than ever.
The changing shape of customer service teams
As machines make their way onto the contact centre floor (which may or may no longer even exist for some companies, after COVID and the drive towards remote work), the makeup of the customer service team itself is transforming.
Human agents, now free from the tedium of the repetitive customer requests they had to handle in the past, are now more available to handle the most complex (and rewarding) customer cases. And what’s more, AI augmentation, which supplies them with suggested responses to customer questions, essentially gives them superpowers to work faster and more effectively than ever before. This means that human agents have now evolved into what are becoming known as superagents.
Beyond the changing role of agents themselves, customer service teams are also taking on more roles to keep up with the changing needs of the modern contact centre. Those who have deployed an IVA on the frontline of their customer service will also need an internal automation expert -- or, ideally, an entire internal automation experts team -- to be responsible for programming, training, monitoring, and troubleshooting the AI. What’s more, the IVA conversation script writer is a new role that will become increasingly commonplace, in charge of writing the IVA’s conversations for all types of customer cases.
And as these teams take their new shape, their importance within the company is also changing. Says Jaime Ricasata at digital loyalty rewards programme CandyBar:
“In 2020, customer support teams are no longer considered simply a ‘cost of doing business', but a key component in the company’s brand development. Customer service teams are in the front lines of customer communications, which means that they’re experts in identifying customer’s needs.
As we can see, 2020 hasn’t been all bad -- at least not in the customer service industry. Indeed, the stress that the global pandemic and all the challenges it brought with it, was likely a big reason why things have evolved so quickly: they had to, to keep up with the demand. The good news is, once we come out the other side of all this turmoil, customer service teams will already be communicating seamlessly across social, using IVAs to handle common customer questions, and delivering hyperpersonalised service. Meanwhile, the teams themselves will have already developed with new roles and responsibilities, to accommodate their newfound importance in the company.
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