The Customer Service Industry is incredibly unique. While it exists as a subset within almost all other industries, it is also a vital component of them. No two customer service departments are the same. However, all departments focus on customer satisfaction. In 2016, there are new ways in which employees should expect to drive satisfaction. Today we’ll be discussing customer service trends.

The Customer’s Change

The largest reason for the constant shifts in the customer service industry is because customers themselves are continually evolving. Customers are becoming smarter and more market savvy. This means the same old ways of driving satisfaction will no longer work. Customers are more connected than ever in new ways. Social media and the rising use of mobile devices means a more connected customer. On every new platform a customer arrives, reps need to be there to greet them. Gone are the days when customer service could rely solely on email and phone communication.

Retail Customer ServiceThe millennial consumer base is also growing, who expect a quick response to any problems that may arise. Millennials, along with other generations, also expect to speak to someone and have a human interaction for problem resolution. Automated responses and decision tree based customer service will no longer cut it. Not having access to a ‘human’ conversation could make a customer consider leaving your business. Customers also expect a genuine and unscripted conversation. If it doesn’t feel natural customers may consider looking elsewhere for their products or services. In conclusion, the power has shifted to the customer. Customer service must move to meet the customer in their preferred space to accommodate them in a timely and sympathetic fashion

Rethinking Customer Service

However, simply because customers don’t want an automated response doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives. To start, many customers are becoming more adept at solving their own problems. This means they are greatly appreciative of a comprehensive self help page. This by no means should replace primary forms of support. However, it offers a good alternative for many customers. Another option that is heavily desired is live chat. Sometimes customers don’t want to commit to a phone conversation, and prefer live chat. Having reps on call who can quickly message is simple to set up and goes a long way with customers.

Customer Service TechniciansAnother big addition to the customer service scene is feedback and big data. Now more than ever, customer service representatives have access to relevant data. This data can be extremely telling and exists because of all the new platforms. Analyzing this data to breakdown consumers into demographics and preferred platforms will be helpful. Proper analysis will make it easier to properly interface and more efficiently problem solve with customers. Some departments are even working with marketing to harness the data between both groups.

Shifting Focus

Customer service is also recognized as a valuable commodity by management. Managers are realizing the importance of customer service and that mentality is being integrated internally. Many companies are promoting a customer-centric culture. Some managers are even beginning to use customer satisfaction as a metric for employee compensation.

Customer Service TeamThe last big change is a shift from reactive customer service to a more proactive approach. This involves identifying customer problems before they arise, and resolving them ahead of time. It can be challenging to accomplish, but powerful when achieved. This can mean focusing on feedback as well as announcing problems when you become aware. Although this shows there is a problem, all possible incidents

There are many aspects of customer service that will continue to evolve, since the customer is constantly changing. Customers will dominate the industry, and departments will have to adjust accordingly. Gone are the days of just phone and email. Multi-platform communication with customer service is here to stay.