I recently participated in a podcast on the 2012 Trends in Customer Service (see the MESH Network’s Stepping Up Service 6 Episode or visit iTunes). Here’s a sneak peek at the key trends to look for this year:
Social Media Learns How to Play Well With Others
Look for intentional integration of Social Media with other traditional customer service vehicles. Facebook and Twitter will no longer be standalones in the customer service world; you’ll see internal knowledge management systems, customer service standards, and communication protocols more consistently applied across all service delivery channels.
You’ll also see the Social Media systems more tightly integrated with other customer service vehicles (i.e., telephone, face-to-face, e-mail, self-serve, live chat, etc.) to streamline customer information flow – and the flow of the customers themselves – to where they will best get their needs met.
Customer Serve Thyself
We’ve heard the saying “physician heal thyself.” Well this trend is an increased focus in self-service customer service. With knowledge management systems growing stronger and SaaS (software as a service) proliferating, it will become more timely and effective oftentimes for the customer to get their question answered/their need met via self-service. And we all know that self-service is usually a highly cost-effective service method for businesses, so expansion of self-service (done right) can be a win-win for customers and businesses.
What’s Out is Now In
I’m seeing lots of bell bottom jeans, tie-dyed t-shirts, and peace signs lately. The band Journey is making a comeback. Is it the 1970s? 1980s?
Remember about 10-15 years ago when outsourcing exploded (particularly outsourcing call centers overseas)? Well insourcing will become a bigger trend in 2012. With the mix of customer service changing (fewer calls, more self-service, live chat, etc.), the cost-benefit of outsourcing will continue to drop. Also, productivity/utilization of contact center staff in the U.S. will continue to increase as they have less downtime with the proliferation of the other service channels, and – again – the financial benefits of outsourcing contact center functions will drop.
On the Road Again
With all due respect to Willie Nelson, this is about…Mobile Customer Service. With over 400 million smart phones sold last year, mobile computing and communications will continue to increase. It used to be that you’d have a telephone with you on the road, so you’d call from the road. When you’re at home or work, you’re close to a computer, so you’d often check websites for support. Now, the phone and computer are – in effect – with you at all times due to smart phones. So customers have more choice, and click-to-call apps or customer service apps will proliferate. Customer service is going highly mobile in 2012!
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