The average customer now uses 10 different channels to communicate with brands.
But merely being present on a given channel isn’t enough. Today’s customers expect great service no matter where, when or how they choose to engage with you.
Meeting these expectations is easier said than done. To provide great customer service across every channel at scale, your service agents need to be able predict, contextualise and personalise customer engagements – fast.
In this blog, we’ll explore the top channels used by service organisations today and how they empower their agents to be there when and where it matters most.
In the latest instalment of our annual State of Service report, we surveyed 3,500 service agents and decision makers worldwide to determine service organisations’ challenges and priorities in 2019.
We found that customer service channels are on the cusp of a digital revolution. While tried-and-true channels like phone and email enjoy near-universal adoption, future growth appears to lie in mobile and multi-media communications.
Over the next 18 months, mobile chat and video chat will see a projected growth among customer service teams at 60% and 98% respectively. Given that by 2020 2.87 billion of us will be smartphone users, this growth makes perfect sense.
Common channels used by service organisations include:
Social media – 72%
Online forms – 68%
Customer portals – 64%
Messenger apps – 55%
Online chat/live support – 52%
The channel with the highest projected growth is voice-activated personal assistants – like Amazon’s Alexa – at an astronomical 152%. This growth is indicative of a wider shift towards self-service: a trend 69% of decision makers cite as a major part of their service strategy.
But as customer expectations shift towards multiple digital channels, how are service teams ensuring their customers always receive the same great experience?
Despite 70% of customers expecting consistent experiences across channels, only 16% say companies generally excel at this. And yet, 70% of service professionals say their organisation can deliver consistent customer experiences.
There’s a dissonance here that needs to be addressed. And it begins by considering how your customers view your brand: as one connected company. 90% of service professionals recognise this, citing customer service as the responsibility of the entire company – not just their department.
To help rally everyone around customer service, many service professionals choose to share common goals and metrics with sales, commerce and marketing. This also encourages a more collaborative approach to customer data, helping open once inaccessible customer data to agents.
This shared data might include a customer’s service history, purchase history, and the marketing materials they’ve responded best to. And just as importantly, it can help your agents identify which channels customers prefer to use and when.
This explosion of customer data can be hugely beneficial to your service agents, but only when it’s unified in a single, connected and contextualised view.
In fact, 84% of service professionals say a unified view of customer information is key to providing great customer experiences. In addition to consolidating this data across a single customer contact platform, you can also apply an artificial intelligence (AI) layer to release your agents from routine processes and power self-service.
As we discovered, the likes of Microsoft’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are fast-rising touchpoints. If your customers can resolve an issue without picking up the phone or chasing emails, they will – and it’s AI that helps underpin these self-service tools.
From gathering preliminary customer information, to prioritising agent duties, to the routing of cases to the right people, AI saves valuable time for agents to spend on more strategic goals. Like ensuring customers always get the personalised one-to-one experience they expect – when and where it matters most.
At present, 56% of agents have to toggle between multiple screens to find all the information they need to do their jobs. But with a unified view, and the assistance of smart, automated technology, agents can get the root of the issue fast.
In our State of Service 2019 report, you’ll discover our full survey results, including detailed insights into the channels where your customers are most likely to be found. You’ll also find out how leading service professionals plan to unify and scale great service across these channels in the future.
But to start scaling today, you may want to investigate Salesforce Service Cloud: a unified customer relationship platform that empowers your agents with a 360-degree view of the customer, including accessible AI-assisted omnichannel support so you can always be where your customers are.