As technology develops and customer expectations shift, the customer service landscape is undergoing major changes. According to Gartner, customer relationship management (CRM) software is now the largest and fastest-growing category of enterprise application software amongst small businesses.
This is particularly true in Australia, where in 2018, adoption of CRM grew by 19.4 per cent, compared to the 12.5 per cent global growth rate. In this increasingly competitive landscape, providing excellent customer experience can help companies cut through the noise and stand out from the crowd.
At Freshworks, we recently released our 2019 Freshdesk Customer Happiness Benchmark Report 2019, outlining just how businesses can achieve this. Four key trends that emerged were:
Increasing customer service channels
Customer service has evolved far beyond traditional contact centers. Increasingly, customers want to be able to contact businesses through multiple channels — phone, email, chat, and social media. They want to find help on platforms they’re already spending time on and as a result, we are seeing more and more businesses embrace social media platforms as part of their CX strategy. According to the Gartner L2 Customer Service 2019 Report, 85 per cent of brands and retailers currently use Facebook Messenger to communicate with customers. A great example of this, and one other brands could learn from, is KLM airline. After realising customers were reluctant to download its app, KLM implemented a Facebook Messenger chatbot capable of sharing booking details, checking passengers in, sending boarding passes and giving flight status reminders. This provided customers with a direct and familiar route to communicate with the brand.
Helping your customers to help themselves
Customer preferences are shifting from traditional one-on-one support channels to self-service options. Customers now expect on-demand customer service. They want information to be available anytime, anywhere they need it. Businesses are enabling this through self-service portals in the form of community, forums, and bots. An example of this is Mozilla Support, through which Firefox users can help one another by answering questions and contributing to help articles. Self service portals also have the added benefit of growing customer loyalty and brand identity.
Bots are getting better
Machine learning and AI is improving the customer experience provided by businesses of all sizes by automating chatbot functions. Experts predict that by next year, eighty-five per cent of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent. Bots can be trained to answer up to 80 per cent of inquiries, significantly reducing costs and saving human agents time for more complex matters. Bots are also great for meeting increasing customer demands, providing around the clock support. In comparison to the rest of the world, Australian businesses have been slow to implement bots, putting them at risk of being left behind as international competitors invest in cutting edge technology. Businesses in the region should view this is a warning and take the appropriate steps to invest in technology, that when used well, can drive efficiencies across a business.
Email is not dead
While customers want to be able to reach businesses through multiple channels, email is still by far the most commonly used method of contact. Despite the growth of other channels, emails still make up 66 per cent of ticket volumes, compared to social media’s 1.7 per cent share. Organisations must take this into account and not neglect their email assistance in the process of introducing other channels.
There has never been a better time to review your customer service strategy. It’s proven that customer experience has an impact on business revenue, with a study by Forrester showing businesses that focused on customer experience saw a 17 per cent revenue growth over five years, as opposed to only 3 per cent revenue growth for companies that did not focus on customer service. As price and product features becoming harder to compete against, customer service will become an even more important differentiator for drawing in new customers and retaining existing ones.