Glasses that store information about your friends’ faces, apps that get food from any restaurant delivered right to your door, home security at the virtual click of a virtual button — these are things we expect from businesses in the foreseeable future. Some of us expect them right now, yesterday, even 5 minutes ago when trying to figure out how to buy groceries without ever leaving the house. (And in fact, there are apps for that too.)
But beyond making purchasing more efficient and finding new means of communicating with a company, what else is in store for the future of Customer Experience? As Forrester Analyst Kate Leggett writes in her report titled Trends 2015: The Future of Customer Service, “In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.” Here we’ll go through a few predictions about how customers and companies will interact in the future, and why it’s important to pay attention to our increasingly customer-centric culture.
Prediction #1: Customer service will employ more hands-on methods
Most of our everyday interactions happen in a digital space now, and customers expect the same approach when making a purchase and getting customer service. Making customer service accessible through emerging channels like web self-service, digital, and social (like online chat) is necessary to retain loyal customers and improve overall brand recognition. Adding unnecessary steps (like a phone call in lieu of an online FAQ) can easily deter a customer from completing a purchase.
Leggett writes that in 2015, customer service professionals “will explore new communication channels such as video chat with screen sharing and annotation as well as remote control of customer devices to perform tasks on the customer’s behalf.” Implementing hands-on services like video chat and remote control of customer devices make customer interactions more personal and efficient — 2 things customers (and customer service reps!) want customer service to be.
Prediction #2: A more efficient mobile approach will take priority
According to Forrester, almost 2 billion people owned smartphones around the world by the end of 2014 — a number forecasted to grow to 5 billion by 2019. As Leggett points out in her report, “Today, virtually all customer service vendors offer some mobile customer service capabilities, and many offer robust mobile field-service capabilities. However, customer service mobile applications remain an afterthought.”
Companies in 2015 are set to change that, with an increased focus on customer service interactions on mobile. And much like starting a recorded show in one room and moving to another TV in your home, companies should provide mobile interactions that can also be paused, restarted, or switched entirely to another device without breaking or changing the interaction.
Prediction #3: Pre-purchase engagement will have a greater impact
While many companies already closely monitor customer journeys, future Customer Experience initiatives look to explore more forms of proactive engagement. For instance, an invitation to chat online or a coupon provided at the right moment could help increase pre-purchase engagement. As Leggett tells us, “Snapfish by HP, an online photo service, does just this, and as a result, has seen a 10 percent increase in average order value, a 48 percent increase in revenue per chat hour, and a 40 percent conversion rate for customers who are proactively engaged prior to making a purchase.”
As Leggett’s research shows, pre-purchase engagement is a smart, fun way to learn more about customers and impact future purchases and interactions. Something as simple as a personalized survey — like clothing retailer Madewell’s “Are You Madewell?” campaign — can drive engagement and provide companies (and customers) with insights before a purchase is even made.
Like instant groceries or virtually controlled home security, updates to the existing Customer Experience promise more efficient, gratifying interactions between company and customer.