Customer Experience News & Trends

What will the 2019 customer experience look like? 11 predictions

Customers are fickle, and you can only wonder what they’ll want or do next. But this might help you stay ahead of their needs and on top of the experience: 11 expert predictions on customer service for 2019.

The customer experience evolves almost every week. So many things – from technology and the human factor to demand and unemployment levels – affect service.

The more you know and understand about new or shifting trends can help you build a better experience and adjust with agility when needed.

“We’re at a tipping point for many transformation triggers, including globalization, digital growth, regulatory compliance and a changing economy. Each of these things has the power to dramatically impact customers and change how they interact with brands,” says Blake Morgan, a Forbes contributor and customer experience expert. “The combination could completely change the face of customer experience moving forward.”

Here are the trends and changes that are likely ahead in five critical areas of the experience:

Human interaction

The human touch will continue to affect the customer experience. Ideally it will have a positive impact on the experience.

“More interactions will be managed through Artificial Intelligence (AI) … and Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices, but queries that are too complex for tech-driven, self-service solutions will continue to be dealt with by customer service representatives,” says Fara Haron, CEO of Global BPS at Arvato. “This means the role of the customer service representative will change and demand more of their human skills, like empathy and problem solving.”

  • Soft skills will matter more. As customers get more savvy with self-service and companies get more advanced with AI, service pros will deal exclusively with complex issues. Those tend to be emotionally charged so service pros will need more training and role-playing in empathy and action.
  • Service pros will need more options. Reps may be relieved of tasks that are handled through self-service, but they’ll still deal with an increasing demand on a variety of topics. To prepare, they’ll need more training on adapting to each issue, rather than using cookie-cutter responses.
  • Technology will need to feel real. Although customers will want to find more information and solve problems themselves, they won’t want to feel like they’re dealing with machines. Self-service options will need to be created with human touches such as casual language, easy navigation and quick access to reps.

Technology

“Technology will be staying in the back office a little while longer, helping with mundane tasks like automation and data entry before making any big jumps toward customer-facing interactions,” Haron says.

  • More first-line interactions can go digital. Tools such as chatbots and AI will be used for more first-line interactions, like automating forms or checking basic info before a query gets passed on to a customer service representative.
  • Voice technology will get better. Haron predicts the technology will “make leaps in 2019,” leaving customers less frustrated when they use it.
  • Video will become more prevalent. More companies will incorporate video calls. Some – like those in the insurance industry – will also use it to organize tasks that had previously been done with paper.

Hiring

With shifts in how customers use self-service, online portals and employee help, companies will make changes to how they hire.

  • The need for skills and experience will increase. Because the more difficult and technical questions will make it to the service pros, companies will look to hire people with higher skill sets – including a willingness to learn more and adapt to changing needs.
  • Companies may need to entice employees to stay. If unemployment stays low, and the demand for higher skill sets goes up, companies will look to offer more competitive wages and better benefits to keep their best people, Haron says.

Growth

  • Customer service interactions will increase. Arvato estimates that service pros will handle 300 billion queries in the next 10 years. Every year – including 2019 – will see increases.
  • Opportunities to sell will increase. More interactions with customers means more opportunities to up- and cross-sell. Resolving customer issues and answering questions will always be the top priority. But service pros should be trained to sell customers products and services that fit their needs.

Security

With more interactions, you can only assume that customer information will be more at risk for security breaches.

  • Companies will need to emphasize security. While it’s important to invest in data security, it will be important to take a front-line, low-level approach to securing customers’ data. Service pros who work with customers daily can advocate for security, reminding customers to change their passwords and regularly check their accounts.

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  • Scarlett Meyer

    I have gone through your article and I appreciate the way you present everything on automation. In my point of view, automation will lessen the human participation in the digital growth of a contact center. But, yes customer service representative should be well trained to handle the complex issues and they should give their active participation in delivering empathy towards the customer.

    • Sarah Miller

      As customers’ needs evolve, businesses that are determined to serve the best quality have to integrate unique methods of assistance to offer unquestionable reliability and flexibility. In a tech-rich era, consumers expect a great level of maturity in the way enterprises propose service solutions. Using AI chatbots, service-based industries can power their everyday interactions with their customers.