2011 was a transformative year in business, as Customer Experience was thrust into the forefront of organizational success.As Bank of America learned when they tried toadd new service charges to their ATM card holders,companies who put their own needs in front of their customers’ now do so at their own peril.
With 2012 now upon us, here are 10 customer service trends to look for:
1. Rage Against the Machine
After decades of companies increasingly automating their customer service, look for more companies seeing the benefit of ‘high touch.’ While the use of the internet for commerce will continue to increase,customers are looking for real people on telephones and in stores.
2. Supercharged Customer Service Agents
Research company Forrester sees a greater focus on customer service agents, and companies giving thembetter tools to do their jobs. They will have systems that will havemore relevant information about their customers in front of them, in a more efficient, effective format.
3. Raised Voices
More and more people are using social media to shout out when they have a customer service beef, and there are number of websites dedicated to enabling them. Twitter has become the water-cooler of the new millennium.
4. Complaint Management
In response to the growing use of social media as the customer complaint network, companies are turning to sites such as Gripevine to make sure those complaints are dealt with properly
5. Self-serve=good, Self-serving=bad
Companies are slowly learning that, while customers appreciate self-serve options that provide a genuine benefit (eg: ATMs, on-line shopping, etc.), they’re not so impressed when a company is just trying to dump the work back on the customer (eg. self-serve checkouts). Some large grocery store chains are already removing their self-service checkouts. See more companies following suit.
6. Quality control
Dave Carroll, the musician behind the now iconic ‘United Breaks Guitars’customer service story, is seeing companies taking greater care before bringingproducts and services to market. “One way to reduce complaints and insulate yourself from brand assaults,” he says,”is to make a quality product that works as it should. Companies I think consider the consequences of poor product and services more seriously.”
7. Customer service training is back
As customer service has begun to dominate the marketplace as a brand differentiator, more and more companies are investing in giving their employees to tools to do it right. Corporate bean-counters are no longer asking, “can we afford to train our people?” They are asking, “Can we afford to NOT train our people?”
8. Video replays
An increasing number of retailers are using in-store closed-circuit video for coaching – and for resolving disputes. As this technology continues to become more cost-effective, the use of it will expand significantly
9. Better Service FailureRecovery
Viral customer service faux pas,such as the one Australia’s Gasp Cothing faced, are creeping into the awareness of corporate decision makers. Companies are seeing the real financial peril of not recovering well from service blunders, and are setting protocols for dealing with them more consistently. “Sucks to be you” is no longer an acceptable answer to a customer complaint.
10. An increasing focus on Mobile Customer Service Applications
Forrester also predicts that, as more customers are expanding their use oftheir smart phones, companies will begin to draw on the capabilities of those devices – cameras, video, GPS, etc. – to drive customer experience.
Are you looking for customer service training for your team or company? Look to the world leader in customer service training: Belding Skills Training & Development
Looking to measure your customer experience? RetailTrack is a world leader in Mystery Shopping and Voice of the customer research.