If we think about the changes in Customer Service over the past 10 years, we can see how far it has gone. Looking back is important to identify aspects that can still be improved and to set new goals. A simple comparison between two pictures is not enough to encompass this complex evolution. Therefore, for this #10yearchallenge, we suggest 10 changes to Customer Service that you must be aware of.
1. A star was born: Automatic Customer Service
2009: A room full of agents answering the same question again and again is the classical image of traditional call centers. Of course, virtual assistants already existed in the world. However, its implementation in the Customer Service area still had a long way to go.
2019: Smart chatbots take over repetitive tasks. They are designed to answer FAQs once and for all, just to mention one of their features. Companies have no longer to use their valuable staff to answer the same customers’ questions. This is the most important transformation and, therefore, it deserves the first place.
2. Service escalated into unthinkable dimensions
2009: A Customer Service agent could help only one customer at a time. Unless they had extraordinary capabilities, solving the problems of many customers at the same time was a difficult.
2019: Virtual assistants can handle many queries at the same time without delays. They are efficient, fast and provide the right answers immediately. Humans still can’t compete against that.
3. Wasting time by standing on queues or on the phone is part of the past
2009: Do you remember the amount of time you had to wait before an agent explained you how to change your cellphone payment plan? This was even worse if the problem was more complex and the call had to be referred from one department to another. And how to forget the annoying music playing while you were waiting! Those were difficult times.
2019: Chatbots and automation have come to our aid again. This virtual assistant feature provides transparent and fast bot-human-bot transfers. It changes the session to a human agent as necessary. Then, it picks up the chat again immediately. Now, customers get the information they need without having to wait long.
4. Digital channels take the lead
2009: If a customer had to contact a company, they would probably do it by phone or email. The problem with phone calls is already known: endless waiting time. With emails, the risk is different. If an angry customer wrote an email, there were two possible outcomes: to be ignored or to receive a friendly invitation to contact the company by phone. The cycle might never end. In a world where mobile messaging apps were still new, communication between customers and businesses was not satisfactory at all.
2019: Digital communication channel scenario has changed completely over the last 10 years. Customer Service has replaced old voice calls with text and multimedia messages. Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger gained ground and websites were optimized to ensure the best net surfing. If we add the concept of chatbots, the current picture is completely different. Multiplication of the contact channels ensured the customer to be heard. And above all, they get answers immediately.
5. Customers get complete and personalized answers
2009: Again, telephone is the main character. Previously, communication with customers was based on voice calls. Although emails could have images, the telephone remained being the king of contact centers.
2019: Digital channels left simple answers behind. Today, chatbots provide complete answers with images, videos, PDF files, formatted texts, buttons, forms, among others. In addition, with Webservices integration, customers get personalized and accurate information. When trying to know the status of an order, you no longer get the generic response “Please, call 1-800”. No matter which channel they use to contact a company, customers now get the exact details about their order without having to do any further action.
6. Sales team feels enlightened by chatbots
2009: If a company wanted to offer a product or service, it would rely only on one means of communication: the already famous telephone. This strategy did not always achieve the expected results. How many of you have hung up when listening to an agent willing to sell them a new credit card?
2019: Thanks to chatbots, companies now have more effective ways to increase their sales. Chatbots are excellent tools for developing Up-selling and Cross-selling techniques, closing direct sales and capturing leads. Technically, this task is more linked to the Sales department. However, a happy customer after purchasing a new product has a direct impact on the entire experience. And this satisfaction means good news for Customer Service.
7. Service costs have dropped and this trend continues
2009: If companies wanted to address all customer queries and claims, they had to hire a large number of employees. Supporting large call centers with agents from different countries required a huge budget. In addition, different time zones caused new operational difficulties which resulted in increased costs.
2019: Today, Customer Service costs can be reduced. In the current economic context, this may be a risky statement, but it is true. Using chatbots saves your agents working time. Their automation allows companies to fulfill tasks that, otherwise, would take more effort and energy. This does not mean that agents will no longer be necessary. On the contrary, their skills can be developed in more strategic sectors. Agents and chatbots are the best team.
8. Language is no longer a barrier, it’s an opportunity
2009: Talking about voice calls, language posed an obstacle in the communication between agents and customers. If the company had foreign customers, the only solution was to hire bilingual staff. Supporting thousands of agents who spoke multiple languages made Customer Service very expensive.
2019: Virtual assistants can be set in more than one language. You only need a specialist for setting them up. Consequently, you will have a chatbot ready to help customers of various nationalities.
9. Getting to know customers is much easier
2009: If a company wanted to collect data from its customers for future Marketing and Sales actions, they had few possibilities of doing so. Some examples were long phone calls, impractical forms or electronic surveys that customers would refuse to complete.
2019: Chatbots allow you to store a large amount of customer data in a practical and efficient way. During conversations, customers provide important information about their interests, preferences and means of contact. Based on that information, virtual assistants build metrics and statistics of interactions. In addition, their integration with Webservices, CRM and other work tools facilitates customer management and cross data.
10. Having truly happy and loyal customers is possible
2009: It’s not that customers were not satisfied at this time. Let’s not exaggerate. But if you take into account all the changes already mentioned, it is logical to think that some of your needs might not be met perfectly.
2019: Customer satisfaction is one of the fundamental pillars of automatic Customer Service. Immediate answers and natural chatbot language ensure smooth, warm and effective conversations. Customers get what they are looking for because chatbots understand the intention behind the questions.
For many more years to come
10 years doesn’t seem that long. However, unique transformations took place. These 10 Changes to Customer Service have proven this. What innovations do you think we will experience in the next 10 years?