What will be the key technology trends in 2016 for customer service engagement? Customer contact technology specialist Sabio outlines its top ten trends for 2016 and suggests five initiatives that should be top of any field service company’s digital customer service agenda.
“Today’s customers are having their service expectations reshaped by advances in consumer technology, and will become increasingly frustrated when having to engage with brands that don’t perform to the same levels as their best practice competitors,” commented Sabio’s Head of Consultancy, Stuart Dorman. “Offering more intelligent service and making it easier to engage can make a huge difference – not only by helping organisations to optimise operational performance, but also in terms of freeing up customer time so that they can actually spend more of their lives doing what they actually want to do.”
Dorman’s predictions for the top trends for effective customer engagement in 2016 are:
- Understanding the true impact of mobile – ever-increasing smartphone penetration means that a growing proportion of service interactions will be transacted on smart devices, so it’s essential that service providers ensure their customer journeys feature clear links to live service via an effective contact centre interface.
- Placing Embedded Service at the heart of the web browser – with over 50% of customers going online before engaging with a contact centre, it makes increasing sense to embed service options within web pages – a trend that will develop further as WebRTC progressively turns the Web into an open communication platform.
- Video-based service becomes mainstream – initial video pilot projects are now going live as organisations, particularly in sectors such as financial service, begin to see video support as a premium differentiator that can strengthen brand relationships.
- Messaging platforms scale to deliver social service – social networks are busy building out their messaging platforms, and will start to open them up to commercial brands who recognise that’s increasingly where their customers are likely to be. With platforms like Facebook Messenger already supporting voice, organisations need to be ready to support those customers who want to engage directly from their social messaging environment.
- Increasingly smart use of data and analytics – Speech and text analytics have now become essential contact centre technologies in the same way that customer feedback did 5 years ago. Now organisations are looking to leverage the immense computing power of the cloud to take this one step further. By combining multiple data sources such as voice of the customer, CRM data, speech/text analytics and contact centre meta data, organisations are using big data analytics techniques to drive an even deeper understanding of their customers.
- Much smarter Virtual Assistants – the same technologies that are powering consumer search services are now being applied to intelligent virtual assistants. Rather than clicking, tapping, scrolling and typing – customers will increasingly have conversations with your website to get what they want, helping to transform their overall experience.
Technology isn’t the barrier – it’s your internal siloes that are causing the problems…
- Enabling natural dialogues through speech recognition – Ever-improving natural language understanding will go beyond simple speech recognition to create natural dialogues that effectively mimic agent interactions. Where the next generation of speech-enabled applications will quickly evolve, however, is in their ability to translate caller intent data into a more conversational, intelligent self-service experience for customers.
- Biometrics gathers real market momentum – thanks to fingerprint recognition on millions of smartphones worldwide, consumers are now treating biometrics as a mainstream technology – with some using the interface over 30 times a day as they ‘sign-in’ to their personal device. Voice and fingerprint biometrics help to achieve the previously incompatible goals of both enhancing security while simultaneously delivering reductions in customer effort.
- Removing the digital siloes – it’s hardly surprising customers get frustrated, when so many organisations still operate and manage their digital and contact centre strategies separately. Closing this gap, and recognising that when people call contact centres today they have probably already been online first, will increasingly define how successful organisations are in delivering on their end-to-end digital customer service goals. Technology isn’t the barrier – it’s your internal siloes that are causing the problems!
- Measuring and reducing customer effort – the customer effort measure is all about surfacing those issues across channels that are making life harder than necessary for customers. Once identified, these can be systematically addressed to help reduce service costs, decrease customer churn and improve overall service levels.
“It’s also critical that organisations have the right strategic direction, infrastructure and expertise in place to take full advantage of these key technology directions,” added Dorman. “At Sabio we believe there are a number of specific programmes that digital customer service teams need to concentrate on over the next 12 months if they are serious about reducing effort and building an integrated Digital Front Door for their customers.”
Dorman says that in 2016 customer service organisations need to focus on:
- Laying the foundations for Digital Service – organisations will need to draw on a broad portfolio of technologies in order to develop the kind of integrated journeys that will make life easier for customers. This will demand the development of ‘Digital Front Doors’ that embrace the end-to-end journey across both self-service and assisted interactions.
- Embed service into every digital journey – providing customers with true embedded service support for each stage of their digital journeys, with more context-sensitive embedded online service applications that draw on web chat or click-to-call to help resolve queries and enable customers to progress to the next stage of their journey with significantly reduced effort.
- Becoming Customer Service Session Designers – until now a major barrier to true end-to-end customer journey design has been the cost and complexity of creating solutions that draw together different parts of an organisation. Now, using the latest engagement development platform technology, customer engagement teams have the opportunity to take advantage of snap-in tools to ensure rapid and more cost-effective solution development.
Experiment by creating your own Customer Experience lab – it’s often difficult for organisations to know exactly which strategies or technologies to deploy in order to achieve their goals. It’s worthwhile establishing your own Customer Experience lab to find out how new ideas measure up when applied to a meaningful sample of live interactions.
- Recreate your Roadmaps based on Customer Experience -Reducing customer effort and building a more seamless experience requires the development of detailed UX-based roadmaps, breaking down specific elements to consider how much of the experience is actually value-creating and how much is wasted through waiting due to overly-complex or broken processes.