The Future of Customer Service: 2017 and beyond thumbnail image Published on 26th January 2017 by Gemma Harding

The world of customer service has changed drastically over the past few years, but the evolution isn’t over yet!

The way that customers interact with businesses is far different than it used to be, largely due to rising competition. If people aren’t happy with the way that you speak to them or handle their queries, then they have absolutely no qualms about taking their money elsewhere.

So it’s important that you stay ahead of your competitors wherever possible! To help you out, the experts here at telephone answering services provider CALLCARE bring you their top four predictions for what the future of customer service holds. Now you’re in the know, you can adapt your strategy and continue to impress long into 2017 and beyond.

1) The working day is changing and will continue to do so

There are only so many hours in the day and while the majority of us spend at least eight hours a day in the office, there are other tasks that need to be taken care of. And that usually involves calling a company or its customer service department. But when is it best to call?

Data gathered by CALLCARE over two years (2014 to 2016) shows a dramatic change in the way that people interact with customer service departments during their normal working day.

7am has now become the new 8am; people are starting their days earlier. Customer service centres, like our very own virtual receptionist service, have reportedly been seeing an increase in the number of calls from 7 in the morning onwards; undoubtedly as people attempt to get their admin out of the way before getting to the office.

People are taking their lunches earlier and are spending less time away from their desks dealing with phone calls. Whereas previously the most popular lunch time calls were made between 1pm and 2:30pm, they are now taking place from 12:45pm and 1:30pm.

Once the working day is over, it appears that people are using that free time to organise themselves, as there has been a 45% increase in the number of calls made between 6pm and 8pm from 2014 to 2016. Customer service calls aren’t dropping off till 8 in the evening.

Gemma Harding, Head of Corporate Services at CALLCARE, comments on these dramatic changes in the customer service industry:

“The way that we interact with businesses and customer service departments is changing. People are no longer fitting their lives around business’ standard trading hours; they are now expecting companies to fit around the schedules of their customers.”

“Of course that’s the way it should be; companies should be doing whatever they can to make their customers happy, otherwise they risk losing them to a competitor who is willing. Going the extra mile, even something as simple as more convenient opening hours, can drastically reduce frustration and stress on the part of the customer. And if they are happy, then they are more likely to pass on good reviews to their friends and family. It’s in your best interest for your customer service to be as flexible as possible.

2) Artificial intelligence will grow

Speaking to a robot over the phone isn’t everyone’s favourite part of calling an outsourced customer service centre. In fact, one in 10 people in a CALLCARE survey stated that their biggest customer service frustration was having to deal with too many options in order to be directed to the correct department. Having to press a dozen different buttons just to be able to speak to a real person is a real life pain point that businesses shouldn’t ignore.

But this could actually be the path to a more efficient and cost-effective future, with just a few amendments to the way the system works.

“In 2017, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will have more of an impact on the business arena than ever before,” explains Arnaud Choveau of CCA International, “One opportunity looming on the horizon for AI is using it to build a better relationship with customers, so IT leaders are likely to have this on their wishlist. AI platforms constantly analyse huge amounts of data, enabling businesses to use live customer data to shape strategy. This makes it easier to make on-the-spot decisions in real-time.

“For example, using AI to develop a chatbot to deal with online customer queries would massively cut costs by providing support without needing to train enough front-line workers to deal with every single query immediately. Customers would then waste less time being bounced from department to department, platform to platform and having to explain their problem multiple times, as AI picks up basic details such as location, correspondence history, meaning the agent can get to work solving the issue sooner.”

However, here at CALLCARE we believe that too heavy of a reliance on artificial intelligence would start to detract from the effectiveness of customer service. What we would like to see moving forwards is support from this level of advanced technology that works hand-in-hand with humans on the other end of the phone.

3) Data-driven customer service

Some companies may not realise it, but they actually have a tremendous amount of information at their fingertips. All the data they collect, sometimes without being aware of it, from their existing customers can help provide all sorts of insights into improvements that they can be making.

Don’t be afraid to start digging into the data that you have at your disposal. Everything from the times that your calls spike to the most popular queries tells you something different about how you can improve your service. And certainly don’t be afraid of sharing; it isn’t just your direct customer service advisers who can use it to their advantage.

“With the ever-increasing growth of online retail, the way businesses are delivering customer service and interacting with their clients is currently going through an evolution,” says Karl Blakesley, Marketing Consultant at OrderWise. “As the buying / selling experience has changed to embrace new technologies, so has the focus of using technology to deliver a first-rate customer service.”

“Nowadays businesses are increasingly looking towards mobilised sales tools to help improve customer service. With this, enhanced CRM software looks set to drive customer service innovations within businesses in the coming years, allowing on-the-road staff to manage and analyse customer interactions instantaneously without the pains of relaying information to and from the office. This will drive forward customer service levels at unprecedented rates through faster, more efficient contact management.”

4) Saturday will become the sixth weekday

For most people, the weekends are made for relaxing, but CALLCARE’s data appear to show that Saturday has
become an extension of the working week. Compared to 2014, CALLCARE has seen a 60% increase in the number of customer care calls being made on a Saturday between the hours of 9am and 6pm. This makes it almost as busy as a standard working day.

For most people, the weekends are made for relaxing, but CALLCARE’s data appear to show that Saturday has become an extension of the working week. Compared to 2014, CALLCARE has seen a 60% increase in the number of customer care calls being made on a Saturday between the hours of 9am and 6pm. This makes it almost as busy as a standard working day.

Again, this is all down to convenience. Companies should be making their customers work hard to get in touch with them; it should be as quick, easy and painless as possible. The weekend isn’t treated the same as it used to be, just the same as Bank Holidays and evenings, so businesses should be doing whatever it takes to ensure that their customers’ requirements are catered for.

What are your thoughts? What kind of changes do you think we will see in the world of customer service in the future?

Here at CALLCARE, we always strive to stay ahead of the curve to ensure that we offer the very best service. If you want to offer the very best customer service possible, get in touch with us today for your complimentary consultation!