Customer service is a crucial part of a company’s overall customer experience. Recent Salesforce research found that 84% of customers believe that the customer experience is as important as a company’s products and services.

Customer expectations are constantly increasing and customer service is continually evolving in order to keep up. Salesforce’s 2019 State of Service Report found that 81% of service decision-makers in the UK believe their company’s customer service must transform to stay competitive. But for many small and medium-sized businesses, it may be difficult to know where to start with this transformation.

And with limited time and resources, adding a customer service overhaul to the list may seem daunting. However, being aware of the latest trends will point you in the right direction and boost your ability to offer the best service to your customers.

We have gathered some of the top customer service trends 2020 is set to witness, so you can understand how the industry is evolving and keep ahead of the curve in terms of the latest technology and strategies.


1. Omnichannel customer experience

We live in a hyper-connected world. As a result, customer expectations have shifted to the point where they expect every company to keep up with the latest technological developments.

According to the latest Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report, the average customer now uses 10 different channels to communicate with companies. But it’s not enough to simply offer these channels of support without a cohesive strategy. These channels need to be connected as further Salesforce research on the State of Service found that 70% of customers say a consistent and connected customer experience is very important to winning their business.

This interconnected, multichannel approach is called omnichannel customer service. For example, if a customer starts a chat on Facebook Messenger but then calls to resolve the support issue, the customer support manager should always be aware of the Messenger chat and the customer’s history.

According to Peter Schwartz, Chief Future Officer at Salesforce, the future of service is that customer service is embedded in the product. So not only should SMEs adopt an omnichannel customer service approach, but they also need the necessary technological infrastructure – such as a CRM system – to get a 360 view of each customer. Some useful tips to get started with this type of customer service are highlighted in our recent Omnichannel Service eBook.


2. The rise of automation, chatbots and AI-powered assistants

One of the major trends that customer service in 2020 has in store is automation. Salesforce research found that 70% of customer support agents believe automating routine tasks would allow them to focus on higher-value work.

As customer expectations rise, Customer Service Managers need to be able to dedicate their time to resolving complex support issues, not doing tedious admin tasks. Technology solutions such as chatbots, or CRM systems can help free up valuable time for your CSM team. Automated customer service can still be personal if implemented with the correct strategy.

According to Salesforce research, only 24% of organisations currently use AI to support customer service. But over the next 18 months, it's expected to skyrocket by 143%.

A key purpose of AI in customer service is to empower customers to solve their own issues, such as activating a product. Around three-quarters of AI-supported customer support team use it to help create smart self-service portals to assist customers. 

Knowledge management systems control how customers access information to resolve support issues. Typically, this includes a knowledge hub where users can find answers to support issues but AI chatbots that can also help with basic support issues are becoming increasingly popular.

While chatbots will never replace customer service managers, 71% of service agents view AI as helpful to their job, and 64% of agents with AI chatbots can spend most of their time solving complex problems, versus 50% of agents without AI chatbots.


3. Hyper-personalised customer service experience

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the rise of the Internet of Things and digital assistants, is boosting customer expectations with regards to personalised customer service.

Now, customers not only expect customer service to be tailored to their personal preferences, but to them specifically as a person. As more customers turn to emerging technologies such as digital assistants, top Customer Relationship Management teams are reacting to this trend. Recent Salesforce research found the use of voice-activated personal assistants like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa in customer service will see 152% growth over the coming 18 months.

Clearly, it’s vital to keep up with customer expectations as the State of the Connected Consumer report found that:

  • 73% of customers say one extraordinary experience raises their expectations of other companies.

  • 75% of customers expect companies to use new technologies to create better experiences.


4. Mobile-optimised customer service management

We already live in a mobile-first world where customers research and buy products on their smartphones. As such, a mobile user’s interaction with a brand is critical for long-term success.

All aspects of your brand should be optimised for mobile devices, including customer support.

Just as consumers are becoming increasingly mobile, so are employees. In order to provide the best customer experience, start-ups are increasing the number of mobile staff, with recent Salesforce research finding that 84% of service decision-makers cite improved or expanded mobile service offerings and operations as a priority; more than half (54%) expect to increase their mobile worker headcount over the coming year. But with this increased mobility, employees need to have access to the same information as if they were in the office. In terms of customer support, they need a CRM that works just as well as a mobile app.


5. Customer journey tracking

Customer journey tracking is an essential part of your analytics. The State of the Connected Consumer report found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of customers have used multiple devices to start and complete transactions - such as browsing on a smartphone - only to sign up for an account on a desktop later.

If customers contact support, they may do so across multiple touchpoints. These additional channels mean that customer journeys are more complex to track than ever before – and often they are omnichannel as mentioned above. But advanced Customer Service Management software  can make this challenge a lot easier by compiling and reporting on the data in one place and allowing you to define intelligent customer journeys. Your customer data allows your brand to provide the best possible experience at every touchpoint and continually improve your service.


Refine your customer service experience.

Proving the best customer service experience is vital to building a successful brand. As a small business leader, you need to refine your customer support workflows and not only keep up with, but exceed customer expectations. Follow these trends to start improving your customer service experience today.

Check out the latest edition of Salesforce’s State of Service report to learn more about crucial customer service trends 2020 has in store.