Proactive Customer Care
It’s not enough to comply with customers’ demands; companies must predict customers’ future demands and act accordingly.
The forecast for one customer care trend in the coming years is an increased emphasis on self-service; technology will empower customers to help themselves. While this will not apply to most industries, it can work brilliantly in many of them depending on the methods used. Virtual agents is another method that is gaining attention; technology will learn from terabytes of data to provide contextual, relevant responses instantly and with the same accuracy as a live agent in a call center.
Another emerging trend is optimization of customers’ mobile experience for those who communicate with their brands. Hilton Worldwide is investing US$550 million for this same purpose. Starbucks and Citibank started using their mobile apps to promote customer loyalty. These are all evidence of a growing trend.
Proactive customer care requires companies to initiate support rather than anticipate it from the consumer first. In 2014, Amazon went a step further by having care agents proactively engage with customers once they placed an order to provide an estimated time of arrival for the delivery, and to introduce itself by highlighting its willingness to help the customer as needed. In a few years, it is forecasted that this approach will cease to be a differentiator between companies, but rather the norm due to its effectiveness.
Rehumanize Your Staff
The “uncanny valley,” a phenomenon first outlined in 1970, describes the negative reaction humans have towards machines that are close to, but not quite, human. Call center agents and salespeople are often bound to strict codes of conduct, which turn them into robotic human beings. People began to miss the personalized human interaction and started to grow tired of walking scripts. A “re-humanization” of customer care will help add personal and human touch when dealing with customers.
Despite contact centers still being the most popular form of interaction, consumers are expected to shift to text-based forms of communication. Chat platforms are hassle-free and allow more freedom to abandon and rejoin the conversation.
Companies will not survive if they treat customer care in all its forms as an expendable operation rather than an integral asset.