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Serving the Autonomous Customer 2015: What will be the future of Customer Service?

October 12, 2015

Consumers themselves are redefining the future of customer service. According to a recent report commissioned by BT and Avaya titled, “‘Autonomous Customer 2015: On hold for Intelligent Customer Service” shows that while consumers are perfectly happy to ‘self-serve’ through websites and mobile apps, they have high expectations for quality service the moment they decide to seek third party support.

As nearly, 79 percent of customers expect to receive response to a social media comment in or less than 15 minutes. This independent report is produced by Davies Hickman Partners, covering 10 countries and is based on the responses of 5,500 consumers, including 500 consumers in the U.S.

The research studies indicate that there are rich rewards for organizations that strike the right customer service balance, as 90 percent of consumers state they will buy more from organizations that are easy to deal with; leading to repeat spend and brand loyalty.

“Organizations have to align themselves with rapidly changing consumer expectations,” says Dr. Nicola Millard, BT’s futurologist. “Transactional websites and mobile apps – along with social media – put organizations in the position of supporting customers 24/7. The digital world lives ‘in the moment’ and puts consumers in control. Customer service has to follow suit.”

Multiple Channels of Communication

With traditional formalized customer service channels less entrenched, and consumer technology so readily adopted, many consumers expect to have the ability to video chat with an organization.

Nearly 50 percent of consumers surveyed would like to see the agent they are speaking with to better resolve complex service issues.

Similarly, accessing customer service through social media is on the rise, with 1 in 5 consumers believing Twitter and/or Facebook are the best ways to reach customer service.

See: For those who “stay put at their desks” all day…This one is for you!

“Customers expect to simply engage seamlessly between voice and digital channels, without having to repeat or update information already provided,” said Karen Hardy, senior director of product management at Avaya.

“Delivering increased levels of engagement and a consistent brand experience to customers will help businesses effectively harness customer satisfaction as a way to remain competitive in today’s marketplace.”

High quality, light touch customer service

With consumers being ever more digital-savvy, companies are increasingly looking to move customers towards self-service to improve service levels and cut their own costs.

However, the ‘Autonomous Customer’ report carries a stark warning for organizations that push customers too far down a self-serve route. While consumers are used to exploring some customer issues directly, when something goes wrong, they expect outstanding and effortless customer service wherever and whenever they need it.

The research findings indicate that the phone is still the primary channel of choice for customer service issues, but 69 percent of consumers do worry about their personal security over the phone.

Another crucial point for customers is the ability to move seamlessly from channel to channel when it suits them. Nearly 82 percent of consumers believe organizations should always offer different channels to meet their customer service needs.

As technology continues to be woven into consumers’ everyday lives, companies will need to ensure they are training employees at multiple levels to anticipate a new range of customer service needs.

From traditional customer service representatives who manage inbound phone queries to members of the communications team monitoring commentary live via social media – consumers are taking customer service to all channels and expecting companies to follow suit.

Also read: 10 Things you should avoid discussing and revealing at Work

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