We had a marvelous chance to kick 2020 off with some of the top support leaders in the industry and to talk to them about the quality of customer service. Of course, we used this chance to let them predict the most important customer service trends they foresee for the year.
Here are their thoughts on what’s in store for support teams in 2020, as shared by support leaders from companies like Adobe, Vimeo, Ericsson, HubSpot, Workable, Geckoboard, and Klaus.
With support quality high on every customer service manager’s list of focus areas, we’ll witness another year of booming conversation reviews. Internal reviews assess how well agents’ responses align with the company’s quality standards in aspects like product knowledge, appropriate tone and empathy, and others.
“You can’t really know what is happening in your customer interactions unless you regularly review a proportion of your support tickets and track your team’s Internal Quality Score. Evaluating all support interactions against a common scorecard helps to maintain consistency in support interactions, which is an extremely important thing to nail.\ \ Moreover, feedback is paramount to your agents’ professional growth - they cannot become better at what they do unless they find out what their areas of improvement are. In 2020, we’ll see agent feedback become a healthy habit in all quality-oriented support teams.”\ \ Martin Kõiva, Co-Founder at Klaus
If you’re looking for a way to boost your customer service quality, conversation reviews might just be the thing for you. Companies like WordPress.com, Wistia, Geckoboard, PandaDoc, and others have already implemented internal quality reviews, who’s next?
As times change, customers and their needs change too. New generations need a lot less help using basic tech solutions in their daily lives. At the same time, their expectations for software are higher than ever before, demanding more advanced technical guidance.
“I expect customer questions to get hairier, more technical, and more integrated in nature. I’m noticing customers don’t need to be re-sold as much on why they bought a product and brand as they used to be - it’s probably because there’s already so much information out there to begin with that they did their due diligence and research upfront.
What they need is help with implementing a product or service into their business model and ensuring that it can scale with them. It’s no secret customers have more responsibilities on their plate than they did in the past; this also means they oversee a litany of products and systems that need to talk to one another so they can do their jobs.
The future for companies like HubSpot is ensuring customers better understand, resolve, and approach technical blockers between systems more strategically. That’s how both our company and our customers will grow better.”\ \ Davis Mastin, Senior Customer Success Manager at HubSpot
In 2020, most support teams will see floods of technically complex questions come their way. Integrations and data syncs are becoming a normal part of our lives these days, so make sure your support team knows how to help your customers make the most out of these opportunities.
It’s been a great ride from the robotic 2000s to personal 2020s, hasn’t it? Though answering machines were a life-changing invention a couple of decades ago, we’ve all grown to love a good old chat with a human agent.
“In line with the larger social scope of technology alienating people rather than bringing them closer together, it is insufficient to create simply a technically independent solution to continue to fulfill the expectation for a quality customer experience.
Customer-facing interactions are becoming more hands-on, more personal(not just personalized) both in the scope of interactions and the incorporation of customer-centricity within company cultures.”
Akshobhya Mann, Sr. Director Global Customer Care and Support at Ericsson
Customer-centricity is an important aspect to point out on this topic. That’s the umbrella-term describing how support teams offer customized help based on the customers’ needs.
“It may sound obvious, but if you truly are customer-centric, all the actions that you will put in place to serve your customers will have a strong impact on your communications.
Each customer is different, each situation is different. It is really important to adapt the communication depending on the customer and the situation.”\ \ Marion Lemoine, Customer Success Manager at HubSpot
2020 definitely marks a rise in personal and customer-centric customer service. By the way, “not a robot” is even a separate rating category in Wistia’s support quality rubric.
Another interesting trend we’ll see in 2020 is self-service gaining more importance in customer experiences. These days, customers are quite informed about the help and answers they need, so having a decent knowledge base could lower your agents’ workload notably.
“It seems like self-service is the most important trend at the moment. If you can provide thorough documentation and tutorials to help your customers solve things before they reach out to the support team - you're saving a lot of time and effort to both the customer and the support teams.”
Nir Ben-Ari, Head of Customer Support at Vimeo Israel
By making help articles, videos, and other resources easily accessible, you’re enhancing the customer experience and making sure your users make the most out of your product. This can impact your customer loyalty and retention rate in a very positive manner.
Phone and emails have been serving us great for the past decades and now they’re facing major competition from alternative customer service channels. We’re not predicting that ‘traditional’ support channels are on their way out but we’ll probably see them team up with other solutions.
“Definitely a change of channels, automation, and proactive help - these are the keywords for future trends.”
Anastasia Tatarinoff, Customer Support Team Lead at Workable
Moreover, we’ll not just see users switch from one channel to another. What 2020 brings us is a combination of all different mediums combined into omnichannel support.
“Once customers do need to reach out to support, you will want them to be able to choose the most comfortable way to do it. Omnichannel support is a growing trend, as customers want to get answers quickly and using the channels they use in their day to day life - chat, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, other social media channels.”
Nir Ben-Ari, Head of Customer Support at Vimeo Israel
Customers are looking for easy and convenient ways of talking to companies and reaching out to their support teams. It’s a growing trend that’s developing hand in hand with other changes towards more customer-centric and personal support experiences.
As Anastasia Tatarinoff, Customer Support Team Lead at Workable, already mentioned, ‘proactive help’ is a keyword for future trends. Reaching out to customers before they’ve turned to your customer service, has huge customer-wowing potential.
“Automated emails are one of the simplest means of offering proactive help to your customers. Do it every time your users navigate into a product area that is likely to raise questions and erase their problems before they’ve even encountered them.”
Valentina Thörner, Head of Product at Klaus
You don’t have to be particularly good at mind-reading to know when to offer help to your customers. Your support agents can probably point out the top areas of concern that you need to pay attention to.
“We continue to offer excellent support with a great CSAT score and impressive response times. But on top of this, we’re now [after implementing conversation reviews] sharing more information internally and providing ten times as much proactive advice between support agents than we did before.”
Luis Hernandez, VP of Customer Success at Geckoboard
See how two trends in 2020 - conversation reviews and proactive help - intertwine here. Coincidence? We think not.
Last but definitely not the least, we’re hoping to see gigantic steps taken further down the AI and automation road in 2020.There’s vast potential in this area to reduce customer service teams’ workload, improve their performance, and deliver better customer experiences to users.
“The biggest trend (innovation) I see, or at least hope to see, in the future is the integration of AI and machine learning into the analytics of customer health, use cases, workflow, and subsequent client-facing interactions/activities that help optimize and enable those.
With so much data available with our customers, I believe there will be rapid advances around scaling high touch customer success to all tiers of a customer base through this type of automated intelligence and "customized" actioning.”
Sirous Wadia, Director of Customer Success at Adobe
The support teams who learn how to make the best use of AI and automation solutions will have a considerable advantage over their less tech-savvy competitors. Let’s see which role AI will play in regard to all of the trends mentioned above.
In 2020, customers will be more center stage than they’ve ever been before for support teams. It’s going to be a ground-breaking year for customized and personal experiences, opportunities for self-help and proactive help, smart AI and automation solutions.
Are you ready for the customer service trends of 2020? Which ones are you planning to nail this year? Let us know in the comments below!