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Five Trends Shaping the Future of Customer Support

By Special Guest
Anand Janefalkar, Founder & CEO, UJET
January 20, 2020

Few industries are evolving at a faster pace than customer support. With an influx of new technologies, devices, and operating systems, contact centers and support teams have a wealth of data and devices at their fingertips that can help them transform support from cost centers into revenue drivers.

However, the best support leaders know that maximizing your support center for today’s customers is only part of the equation. A core component of customer support must also consist of keeping an eye on the market, industry trends, and emerging technologies, and assess how they can begin laying the foundation today, for a successful tomorrow.

Here are five trends that are shaping the future of customer support:

1. Internalization of AI

Until now the conversation surrounding AI has predominantly been focused around AI’s adoption as an externally facing tool. The infusion of AI into tools – such as chatbots, virtual assistants, and more – has created a more efficient and enjoyable support experience for customers.

As we move into 2020 and beyond, AI’s impact will grow, shaping not only the external side of support, but will be leveraged behind the scenes as well. Adopting AI into support’s back-end system means agents and support leaders can easily and automatically surface relevant and critical data and automatically tap into the much larger contact center ecosystem to get a much more well-rounded view of their customers. Support teams that are able to leverage AI internally will be more equipped to streamline contact center operations and arm agents with the tools they need in order to provide a unique and personal support experience for their customers.

2. Hyper-specialized teams

With companies consistently bringing new products and features to market and support extending its reach across multiple channels, support teams have suddenly found themselves needing to cover much more ground than ever before. Asking support teams and agents to be generalists, and have a core understanding of everything is not only becoming more challenging, it is also impacting the experience for customers.

In order to stay ahead, support leaders need to begin investing in hyper-specialized teams. This means designating agents and team members to specific products, channels, or customer profiles and allowing individuals to become experts in one area of support instead of a generalist across all fields. This level of expertise and hyper-specialization allows agents to better assess support issues that come across their field and identify ways to resolve those issues in a quick and efficient manner as well as ensuring that support leaders have the right team members in place to handle difficult questions, provide upsell opportunities, and feel comfortable in providing a personalized support experience.

3. Connecting support with the rest of the business

Customer support has traditionally been one of the more insulated teams within a business. However, many companies are realizing that, in order to reap the rewards of digital transformation, customer support must be along for the ride. This means the silos that have stood between support and the rest of the enterprise must come down, and the way to do that is with data.

There are very few, if any, other people or teams within an enterprise that interact with customers on a day-to-day basis more than customer support agents. This means customer teams have a wealth of valuable customer data that can and should be shared across the entire enterprise. The most successful support teams of the future will be the ones who are able to securely access and share key customer data with teams, such as marketing, sales, product, and more, in order to provide a full 360-degree view of the customer across the entire organization. This data not only helps the rest of the enterprise make more strategic and customer-focused decisions, but it can showcase the true value of support and how a customer-first approach can generate a faster time to ROI.

4. Optimizing the pathway

One of the biggest and most critical trends within customer support in recent years has been the expansion into multiple support channels and ensuring that customers can easily maneuver between them without compromising their experience. In order to do this, companies have made smartphones an integral part of the support experience. Moving forward, the importance of smartphones in customer support will only continue to grow.

As many organizations have already built out their multichannel capabilities, as we move into 2020 and beyond, support teams will instead focus on optimizing the customer pathway for each channel. This means infusing each support channel with multimedia capabilities and functionality, such as photo and video sharing, capturing screenshots, and being able to securely share data in real time. By optimizing their support channel pathways, organizations and able to create a tech-savvy support experience, replicating how customers interact with one another.

5. Messaging reaches the mountaintop

Voice will always be a core component of customer support and a key channel, especially for urgent issues. However, we’ve consistently seen the growth of messaging support year-over-year. As more and more Millennial and Gen Z consumers enter the market, the steady rise of messaging support interactions will only continue.

2020 will be the year that we see messaging support (both SMS and Chat) overtake voice and become the primary support channel. The ability to meet customers where they are already is – and will continue to be – a critical part of the customer experience. With more and more customers preferring messaging platforms as a way to communicate with each other, support teams must look at replicating that experience and allow customers to communicate with support agents, bots, and more through the platform they feel most comfortable with.

Laying the Foundation for Future Success

With the 21st century’s roaring 20s upon us, customer support finds itself at a pivotal point. The combination of digital-first strategies and new and emerging technologies provides a wealth of opportunities and options that can help support leaders make more strategic decisions, reshape business models, and make support a core component of any organization.

By staying ahead of these five support trends, agents, supervisors, and business leaders can create a one-of-a-kind support experience that not only helps customers resolve issues faster and stay brand loyal, but also turns customers into brand advocates and champions.

About the author:  As Founder and CEO of UJET, Inc., Anand Janefalkar has 15 years of experience in the technology industry and has served as a technical advisor for various startups in the Bay Area. Before founding UJET, he served as Senior Engineering Manager at Jawbone, and also previously contributed to multiple high-profile projects at Motorola.

For more information, education, and networking opportunities around how businesses are leveraging voice recognition, AI and automation to improve existing business models and develop new ones, don’t miss the Future of Work Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida February 12-14, 2020.  The event, part of the TechSuperShow, will explore how AI, machine learning, and automation are being used throughout a host of vertical markets and are rapidly shaping the future of business.

Edited by Erik Linask
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