2019. 03. 07.

5 customer service trends that 2019 predictions missed

What should we expect on the market regarding customer relationships? Let us be honest: we don’t want to preach. However, we’re glad to tell you everything about the trends no one talks about and those we think differently of. So here are 5 trending topics in 2019 through Comnica glasses.

1. AI is coming, but not in the way you think

Every year, dozens of surveys test the population whether or not they are prepared for the fact that sooner or later, but robot agents will take over customer service from real people. Well, the industry singularity is likely to be delayed for some time, but modest solutions based on artificial intelligence will slowly sip into everyday business relationships.

Here’s what we foresee in 2019:

  • Phone menus with speech recognition are on their way with the development of natural language understanding and processing (NLU, NLP): more and more companies will be swapping their push-button menus for IVR systems that understand the caller’s needs. Though this might feel like talking to a robot assistant, the smart IVR simply uses a few thousand preprogrammed keywords to help us.
  • We’ll see some AI aided routing solutions emerge this year. Such systems will identify users based on their phone number and forward their calls to the colleague most likely to be needed in solving the given problem based on individual customer history, saving quite some waiting time and button pushing effort in the IVR menu.
  • Instead of blasting development, chatbots are still likely to continue their steady evolution, finally reaching their true adulthood in 2019. According to Oracle, 80% of companies will be using AI-driven messaging by 2020, saving up to 8 billion dollars by 2022.

2. People will prefer remote administration of tasks they formerly managed in person

Every year, several global research projects promise the arrival of the self-service customer service era. This statement has so far proved itself wrong each year, and we still don’t think the time has come: chatbots don’t chat well enough and smart platforms are still not smart enough.

Perhaps the customer’s biggest question is still not about what they can replace the telephone customer service with, but rather how they can avoid personal, face-to-face contact. This year, we’re keeping our eyes sealed on a hybrid self-service solution, where customers can join the administrative process via a live image. This is the famous video call feature.

Here’s what we foresee in 2019:

  • A growing number of banks and financial services will join the video call revolution to help ease administration. Many countries are negotiating or have decided on permitting various credit and insurance contracts to be concluded with a single call, as the signee can be credibly identified through the live video image.
  • Some services may discover this year that they can provide remote assistance to their customers via video calls, saving both parties the effort of visiting one another personally. This idea is in no ways futuristic, Amazon has been using video support since 2013, where the agent helps the customer overcome technical issues on a split screen.
  • With video calls, customers can prove damage or other issues with products they ordered online. Amazon has been doing this too for a while, and we expect other online merchants to join this year.
  • As for chatbots and online self-service systems, this year will be the year of consolidation after the hype, which will not bring a real breakthrough. Video calls as new hybrid technology solutions might enter the market slowly.

3. Text will return, but with a whole new look

According to Attentive, 98% of Americans are open to receiving offers from brands in the form of text messages, and Aspect claims that every other customer would be glad to contact customer service through chatting or texting. No wonder companies are pumping more money into text marketing. SmartSMS, meaning text messages with clickable links are gaining popularity after being introduced to the market a few years ago, and RCS technology has arrived by its side last year too.

Rich Communication Service is the hybrid child of SMS and chats: it lets you embed not only clickable links, but also videos, gifs, maps, and menus, and makes it possible to order food or book a flight directly from the message. It’s special because it always gets delivered: it’s delivered to your phone number, therefore if you have an internet connection, you’ll see the interactive chat message, if you don’t, it still delivers as a simple fallback text message.

We expect the text hype by 2020, this year is only going to be all about careful experiments:

  • More and more marketing campaigns will use clickable SMS, especially in the SME sector and the healthcare market. Most companies will send promotional offers, reminders, and satisfaction questionnaires to their clients.
  • The largest messaging platforms (WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, Apple, Google) have all introduced their business to customer solutions, on which some of the pioneering companies (KLM, AeroMexico) have been developing their own customer relationship platforms last year. This trend will continue.
  • This year, mobile users will learn what RCS is good for, as Google is the biggest supporter of the technology, and the 30 largest mobile manufacturers are providing it with their devices in the form of a built-in app.
  • More and more telco service providers will make RCS available to their subscribers, and hopefully, the industry will come up with a fancier name for the technology.
  • Customers will be receiving their first RCS messages soon, with great delight.

4. The list of KPIs is constantly growing, but you’ll only need the top 10

This year is all about metrics. Everywhere we go – whether it’s a customer meeting, workshop or conference, – performance measurement is the No1 hot topic. KPI development has become a science on its own: for example, the contact center benchmarking specialist MetricNet (whom we met in Las Vegas on the ICMI expo), has defined nearly 100 different metrics. They were the ones pointing out that all American customer services use KPIs, but only 10% use the insights for improvement. The question arises: in this case, why do they bother?

For those who consider it important to measure their customer service performance wisely in 2019, here’s what we recommend:

  • The good news is that transparent monitoring doesn’t require 100 KPIs. The emphasis is not on the quantity used but on the expanding possibilities of choice.
  • There is no point to create reports full of statistics that get forgotten after the first presentation. Choose the 10 KPIs that you not only measure but follow too – the rest is just noise.
  • Metrics alone don’t tell you much about performance, don’t forget to find and analyze the relationship between them.
  • There’s no ultimate list of KPIs, go ahead and figure out the ones that fit your business best. For example, in one of the most prepared customer service centers in the world, besides the average talk time (ATT), the total call duration is an important indicator too.

5. The line between Contact Centers and CRM systems is thinner than ever

If you’ve been to as many international conferences as us in the past year, you must have noticed that customer service topics are increasingly focusing on customer journey and journey mapping. It’s no coincidence.

If companies delivering customer contact solutions don’t know anything about the people their clients have to serve, they most probably can’t fulfill their needs properly. However, if you look closely at an omnichannel system set up for selling products, it’s not that hard to find similarities to the classical customer journey:

By now, CC providers are planning customer journeys too, often without knowing. The individual funnel stages and the lead “temperature” should be perfectly trackable in a modern contact center software by now, similarly to a classical CRM. Last year, we saw live demos from several major developers. Their systems manage complete client lists, assigning actions and campaigns to the listings, instead of storing individual campaign databases. This way CRM integration has become much easier.

In 2019, we expect a great interdependence between Contact Center and CRM solutions, with unnoticeably thin lines between customer service, customer relationships, and customer experience.