There’s a big shift happening in customer service — powered by complex technological advancements in artificial intelligence, speech recognition, emotion detection, IOT, the list goes on. But to sum up this shift is actually quite simple. It’s about moving away from customer service agents saying “How can I help?” and moving towards being able to say, “I know what you need.” It’s personalized service, but in order to be able to personalize a service experience, you need to be able to make meaning out of the data you have about your customers, and you need that data to become actionable. In short, personalized service starts with intelligent service. And when delivered in the right way, it moves the customer away from anxiety filled interactions, to service that happens in a whole new way.
The good news is, companies have spent years are providing customers with hundreds of interaction touchpoints for service, and those interactions have created a treasure trove of insights waiting to be gleaned about how to deliver future customer experiences. New customers are searching your website to troubleshoot questions regarding setup. They’re tweeting about ways to get faster and better support. When you get down to it, there’s actually a very small set of reasons why a customer chooses to voluntarily interact with a company for service, and you can get even more granular based on where the customer is in their relationship with your company.
For example, if the customer received a bill within the last three days, chances are they are calling you with a question related to billing. The technology is available for this customer to pick up the phone and, instead of being listed with a phone tree of “press 1 if you’re calling about…” and so on, this customer could immediately be greeted with, “Are you calling about a question about your bill?” Or if you’re a cable company and a customer under the age of 25 calls you during the summertime, data points to that customer calling because they are moving and need to cancel or transfer their service.
With the power of artificial intelligence, the technology to predict these interactions is here. But it’s 2017, and most companies still don’t know why it’s customers are calling when the agent gets on the phone. Most customer service departments are in the business of delivering service for the masses — providing average customer service for the average customer. But in the Age of the Customer, average doesn’t get you customer loyalty or share of wallet — average doesn’t get you anything.
The best service you never had is service delivered to customers harnessing the data we have about why customers need service coupled with where customers are in their journey. The application of this will turn service into a set of amazing interactions customers don’t recognize as the way we deliver service today. That’s the promise of the big shift happening in service today, and we’re excited about how it will redefine the relationship between company and customer in the future.
If you want to learn more about the major trends evolving in customer service and how you can keep up, check out my interview with customer service expert and New York Times bestselling author Shep Hyken on his podcast, Amazing Business Radio: