The pundits seem to be united: the future of customer service is in delivering a great “ digital experience” – whatever exactly that is.
Gartner headed its 2016 customer service predictions: “Excellent Customer Experiences Hinge on Continuous Digital Experiences.” The predictions contained an “assumption” — as distinct from a prediction: “By 2020, poor customer experiences will destroy 30 percent of digital business projects.”
Customer engagement company [24/7] has produced an infographic “Five predictions of where digital customer experience is heading.” It says: “Delivering an exceptional digital customer service experience will be table stakes for all companies,” and quotes and un-named survey “Eighty five percent of CEOs say digital technology has a crucial role to play in optimising customer experience and achieving superior customer experience results.”
Forrester, in its Trends 2016: The Future Of Customer Service, never actually uses the ‘d’ word — there is no reference to anything digital. However digital technology underpins all the trends identified by Forrester. “Delivering customer service involves a set of technologies that fall into three main software categories,” Forrest says. It lists these as: queuing and routing, CRM customer service and workforce optimisation and predicts that these will consolidate to facilitate the delivery of better customer service.
Forrester also predicts that companies will “explore cognitive engagement solutions that take input, learn from that input with human assistance, put the content into context, and make relevant, evidence-based recommendations.”
Gartner also stressed the importance of “continuous” digital experience, and that is reflected in Forrester’s trends, where Forrester says: “Customers want to be empowered to get a question answered or an issue resolved at any point during their engagement journey with a company, and they expect easy service interactions. Over half of US online adults will abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions, and 73 percent say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service — up two points from 2012.”
Here’s another of Forrester’s predictions that, if fulfilled, will create a more continuous experience for customers. “Organisations will begin to extend the power of analytics to prescribe the right set of steps for customers or agents to more effectively service customers.” To do this they will “correlate online behaviour with requests for service and suggest changes to agent schedules and forecasts.” They will “learn to better route a customer to an agent who can most effectively answer a question based on skills and behaviour data.” They will “better understand customer call patterns and pre-empt future calls.”
In one sense, a “continuous customer experience” is achieved by the transition from selling products and supporting them to providing a product-based-service, enabled by the connected and continually monitored products that the Internet of Things will produce. The example Forrester gives is the air-conditioning system manufacturer that “offers cold air as a service instead of requiring building owners to buy and operate chillers.”
In short, there is likely to be a very significant digital component, not just to customer service, but to many products and services in the next few years.So a deal of work will be required if Gartner’s gloomy assumption is to be proved wrong.
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