In the information age, businesses need to find innovative ways to improve customer service, or they’ll quickly fall behind their competitors. With negative online reviews going viral and brand images destroyed in five minutes on social media, customer service has gone from a department to a defining element that can make or break your reputation.
Fortunately, technology is paving the way for this transformation. From chatbots and AI to augmented reality, the digital revolution is redefining the customer experience.
In this article, we’re going to explore how cutting-edge tools and the latest trends can be harnessed to deliver exceptional customer service. So if you want to keep your audience happy without burning out your team, let’s dive in.
Before we get ahead of ourselves with the immense potential of technology now and in the future, it’s crucial to remember that we need to put our customers first. Companies across all sectors are investing heavily in tech to improve customer service, but if your users are unhappy, that investment is simply wasted.
We’re referring to a new concept called “engineered insincerity”, where automated processes work incredibly efficiently, but lack any sense of genuine connection. Examples include an overload of irrelevant emails, a barrage of impersonal text messages, or chatbots that sound enthusiastic while completely missing the point of the interaction.
The result is that your customers feel like another number and that you, as a company, don’t care about them. You can surely relate to the classic exasperated exclamation, “Can I please just speak to a human?”, and this is one of the customer experience trends you really want to avoid.
Therefore, when you’re implementing your new tools, consider how you can enhance human interaction rather than replace it. Chatbots, for example, are great for simple requests, but when users call about more complex or sensitive issues, they should have an easy option to get through to an expert who can deal with their query more effectively. Think of it as a hybrid approach. You use customer service technology to speed up your work and cut down on costs while retaining a human team to intervene at a moment’s notice and keep your customers happy.
For customer empathy to be most effective, we need to know what the real issue is. Traditional customer service teams used to waste hours every week trying (and often failing) to identify the core of the interaction. But now, you can use greatly improved customer service techniques to build a full picture before you get to work.
You’ve probably experienced this from the client side: “Press one if your query is about billing and payments”. This interactive voice response is a smart tactic for professional customer service call centers to gather information and direct the call ever closer to the best agent for their query. Once it arrives on your expert’s screen, they have vital details such as a name, account number, request category, and often a brief explanation of the problem.
The same technology has been taken to the next level with artificial intelligence (AI). AI-powered chatbots will offer an immediate welcome and ask smart, tactful questions to get to the kernel of their issue. With full knowledge of your product, these tools can easily go one step further, giving your client a tailor-made solution to their problem.
Sure, AI is not a panacea, so track your customer experience trends. If you have a high rate of customers disappearing before they resolve their queries, you need to take action and make the process more user-friendly.
There is, of course, a second benefit to this customer service technology. When your team is overwhelmed with requests, your automated chatbot or phone system provides an instant reply to your customer, rather than leaving them feeling unheard and undervalued.
Customer relationship management tools (CRMs) have leveraged sales intelligence features for some time now, and it doesn’t take much to convert that to improved customer service. Data analytics can absorb vast amounts of information, analyze it in seconds, and offer insights and recommendations that your clients will love.
If you can improve customer service in your company by predicting people’s next move, you can intervene either immediately after a problem arises, or even better — before. In terms of finding solutions to issues, this could entail sending out mass recall emails to all buyers of a certain item.
But these customer support tools can also help your sales team hit their targets. With your data analytics running in the background, it can spot customer patterns and trends before offering personalized items that they might want to buy.
One of the most useful data points is your user’s behavior across your website. Repeated clicks on a certain item are a key indicator that they would like to buy it. Therefore, you can send automated emails with a discount to seal the deal or deliver targeted ads to pique their interest.
Data analytics can help improve customer service by getting to know your users better. Be careful not to go overboard with the ads, and you could create a genuine, loyal connection.
Any companies that haven’t fully embraced the multi-channel communication lifestyle by now are highly likely to have a bad reputation for customer service.
Whatever the demographics of your client base, you need to be present everywhere, and it’s not as difficult as it once was. At the beginning of the digital transformation, teams would have to monitor separate email accounts, social media platforms, and telephone lines, jumping between each one and struggling to keep coherent records.
Times quickly changed, however, and now you can use a CRM to centralize all your customer requests — regardless of what channel they come from. A single representative working with a single screen will be notified whether they receive a direct message on social media, a phone call, or a request via your website chatbot. Then, without leaving their CRM, they can reply via the client’s preferred channel while handling other requests at the same time.
This use of tech in customer service has the dual advantage of helping you deal with more requests at once, all while improving the customer experience by making it easy for them to get in touch.
Using tech in customer service normally implies streamlining your services so you can deal with customer requests as efficiently as possible. But one of the best ways to stay on top of your backlog of requests is to make it irresistibly simple for your users to solve their own issues.
After a significant initial investment of time and resources, knowledge banks can shift the responsibility from overworked customer service agents to the customers themselves. This is a simple solution for teams who receive the same simple requests repeatedly. Knowledge bases usually take the form of an easy-to-navigate webpage with a hierarchical structure, an FAQ section, and a search bar. With the most basic of keywords, people are taken to an interactive page that will help them solve their problems in no time.
At its most basic, a knowledge bank page might have a step-by-step text page to walk users through the solution. However, you can turbo-charge your content with video guides that offer visual how-to explainers. For each of your videos, provide timecode links for fast navigation, and add speech as well as subtitles for maximum accessibility.
Each page should include a means for users to show whether they found the page useful or not. That way, your knowledge repository can solve countless options in the background and you can monitor how your pages are performing. When your web analytics highlights a page that receives frequent negative feedback, you can target your efforts rather than performing a full audit with no direction regarding what to fix.
Here we come to another method to improve customer service using technology that takes a while to set up. But once you’re underway, you’ve got a powerful tool to support you.
As you bring in new hires, you’ll need to onboard them with basic training. But why stop there? Over time, you can house a full package of materials in your cloud storage, facilitating easy access and sharing through your internal knowledge base with team members who need a boost.
Sounds great, right? But it’s hardly cutting-edge technology.
Well, if you add in performance analytics and automated notifications, you can start reaping the rewards of a consistently high-performing team.
Start by identifying some of the most important KPIs for your customer service success. Typical metrics could be:
First call resolution
Customer satisfaction score
Average ticket resolution time
With your CRM analytics measuring these in real-time, each agent will develop a score. And if that score drops below a certain level, you can ping out a notification recommending extra training. Clearly, you want your team morale to stay high, so send the alerts to yourself first, speak privately with the individual, and offer full support throughout the retraining process.
These performance metrics and automations allow you to maintain the highest standards without monitoring your staff in an overbearing way.
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Augmented reality (AR) left its “gimmick” reputation behind years ago. Now it is a champion of digital transformation in customer service with a wide variety of use cases. The underlying concept is simple: it allows brands to interact with consumers on their mobile devices in a more engaging and immersive way.
For example, online clothes stores allow customers to virtually “try on” clothes before they buy. Similarly, furniture producers show people how their living room will look before committing to a purchase. These immersive experiences significantly enhance a customer’s ability to make an informed decision, leading to greater satisfaction. But what’s more, AR tools are seriously shareable. Your sales team will relish the boost in interest if your AR experiences go viral.
Of course, no guide on how to improve customer service with technology would be complete without artificial intelligence.
We’ve already seen how it can accelerate existing customer support tools like chatbots. But now we’re going to take a deep dive into the latest emerging uses.
It’s impossible to have ignored the impact of large language models (LLMs) on business. These machines have incredible memories which they can recall at a second’s notice to contextualize your responses. If someone on your team previously promised a discount to your customer, your LLM will recall that information and include it in a draft response for you to check.
Just like your dog can pick up on feelings that are invisible to humans, emotion analytics are customer support tools that can read between the lines and identify what your clients are really thinking.
Emotion analytics uses machine learning to understand the tone of a customer's request and get a realistic representation of their feelings. It then tailors a response that takes the client’s mood into account while offering a solution. With every interaction, emotion analytics learns what works and what doesn’t, and refines its approach to build stronger relationships and boost your customer retention and loyalty.
It may sound strange, but image recognition has the potential to significantly improve customer service. Take flat-packed furniture, for example. We’ve all made mistakes trying to put a sofa together, but often we can’t see what we’ve done wrong.
With AI image recognition tools, users will be able to take a picture of their assembly progress and send it to a customer service bot. Then, analyzing countless previous examples, the bot will generate a curated response to each case.
As we’ve seen, there are plenty of ways to improve customer service through cutting-edge technology. But of course, it’s not good enough just to know the theory. You need to put it into practice.
Bitrix24 is an all-in-one solution for your customer service needs with features such as:
A CRM with powerful analytics for data-driven customer relationship strategies
Live chat and chatbots for round-the-clock support
A full range of communication tools to make your service fully accessible
A knowledge base builder for seamless self-service
With this and so much more all on one platform, you can empower your business and provide unparalleled customer service.
Technology can improve customer service both internally and externally by:
Some of the most important recent trends in customer service technology are:
AI is changing the customer service landscape in diverse and exciting ways, including: