I’ve been working in customer service for over 30 years. In that time there have been huge advances in technology aimed to make things easier for the customer — computers, mobile phones, internet, smartphones and most recently, artificial intelligence (AI). However, with all these changes I don’t believe the level of customer satisfaction has improved significantly in that time.
The person who didn’t return my phone call promptly 20 years ago is the same person who doesn’t return my email promptly today. If years ago I was promised action in three days and it took five days I was an unsatisfied customer. Today, if you promise action in two hours and it takes three hours I am equally unsatisfied. In most industries the promise has changed due to technology but the percentage of promises kept has not necessarily increased at the same scale.
Here are three ways you can evolve to make sure that your employees are keeping customer promises, and therefore, keeping customers happy.
1. Invest in training and skills
The State of Service report reveals the intention of organisations to deliver better service and use all the technology at their disposal to create the best possible customer experience.
The survey reinforces that investment in agents’ skills correlates with service performance and it is, of course, no surprise that 88% of high performers make significant investment in agent training, in comparison to 57% of low performers.
Investment in training is required not only for soft skills but also for working with new technologies like AI. Quality, ongoing training and the right technology can help service teams be more engaged and productive while also delivering outstanding customer experiences.
2. Empower your mobile workers
Mobile workers are becoming pivotal to the front face of brands, so arming them with the same capabilities as their office-based colleagues should be viewed as key to the evolution of modern service. The State of Service report found that 89% of service decision makers say the experience a customer has with a mobile worker is a reflection of their brand.
This is unquestionable as the customer’s perception of the brand is based on their own personal experience of interaction with the company, so a mobile worker can be a factor in driving new revenue streams and brand differentiation.
3. Use AI, but don’t forget the personality
Possibly the most interesting area is the impact of AI on the customer service industry. The fact that 23% of companies are already using chatbots and 53% of companies expect to be using them within 18 months is evidence that emerging technology is becoming more common in the services sector.
Almost all agents believe the use of chatbots will free their time to work on higher level problems and have a major impact on customer service delivery. The fact that over 80% of service teams with AI have increased their first contact resolution rates and many have seen a boost to their NPS scores augurs well for this trend to continue.
Like all of these things, the true success of the implementation of AI will be determined by the customer. One of the critical areas of customer service is empathy and not only rectifying a problem or answering a query, but also ensuring that the customer leaves with a positive sentiment for the brand.
Customer service is all about making the customer feel good about the product, brand or company. While the automation of repetitive non-interactive tasks has very little downside, when it comes to personal interaction and relationship building, the less personally we deal with customers, the weaker the relationship becomes and disloyalty becomes easier for the customer to justify. We need to use technology, but in the right way: to deliver on our promises to our customers.
If you’re after more insights on customer service, download the latest State of Service report today.