Customer service has transformed from a tactical initiative to a strategic business function. Now, more than ever before, customer perception toward a business is shaped largely by the quality of customer service the business offers. With changed customer behaviors and priorities, we witness the emergence of new customer service trends reshaping the ecosystem.
From generative AI-led support to the advent of machine customers, these trends will impact all aspects of the customer support function – operational, technological and strategic. Success is inevitable for businesses that respond to these customer support trends with agility.
To get a first-mover advantage, get ready to embark on a thrilling, fast-paced journey toward customer support excellence, enhanced customer delight and agent happiness. Start by learning about these customer service trends.
- Trend #1 - Operational excellence will drive growth
- Trend #2 - Customer self-service becomes the brand
- Trend #3 - Voice of customer(VOC) is the Bible
- Trend #4 - Delight, don’t just satisfy – with proactive support
- Trend #5 - Automation lends efficiency
- Trend #6 - Generative AI will disrupt support
- Trend #7 - Leaders will prioritize agent training and upskilling
- Trend #8 - Personalization with privacy will be the norm
- Get the first-mover advantage on customer support trends with Sprinklr
Trend #1 - Operational excellence will drive growth
With customers demonstrating a willingness to pay a premium for quality customer support, brands have a clear opportunity to raise their bottom line if they are able to eliminate operational inefficiencies. In 2023, it will be vital for customer support functions to pivot, make the right trade-offs and contribute to the topline revenue. At the same time, recession-proofing your contact center/call center will be paramount as layoffs and economic fluctuations continue.
Read more: 3 Important qualities of customer service
Industry experts testify to the trend.
Every year, Gartner surveys customer support leaders from tech to retail, gathering insights about their organizational goals, strategies and pressing challenges. In 2023, attaining operational excellence was the topmost customer service goal for 63% of respondents.
Ace the trend: Prepare your business for this customer service trend by:
Being omnipresent on all pertinent channels. Omnichannel customer service can be resource-intensive, therefore evaluate all your channels objectively and invest in the ones with maximum contact volume and customer preference.
Hire blended agents. Agents who can handle inbound and outbound queries adeptly can reduce your staffing costs and drive sales through proactive outbound calling.
Trend #2 - Customer self-service becomes the brand
COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of customer self-service for most brands. From enterprises to mom-and-pop stores, today almost every business offers self-serve avenues like messaging platforms, chatbots, knowledge bases and mobile applications to help customers self-seek resolutions.
With contact volumes lowered, the focus will shift to attaining excellence in self-support and staying flexible to evolving customer needs. Needless to say, agentless support will be a mainstay for simple use cases, reserving agent assistance only for complex cases.
💡Sprinklr Tip: Go beyond basic self-serve tools like chatbots and look into voice agents (Ex: Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant), especially if you target younger demographics who use voice search avidly. Leverage Conversational AI platforms that can decipher regional accents and colloquialisms, helping you deliver near-perfect answers that drive customer delight and retention.
Trend #3 - Voice of customer(VOC) is the Bible
Listening to stated and unstated customer needs yields invaluable insights into customer behavior and next actions. When customer support techniques are based on real-time data, they are personalized for each customer, delivering instant value and delight.
Voice of customer (VoC) will be gathered, tracked and analyzed rigorously for collecting actionable customer data. Positive and negative customer sentiments will be addressed as a priority to ensure the customer feels heard and valued.
“In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.”
Doug Warner, Head of Business Innovation, AWS
Point to remember: Design your VoC program on the back of tools like:
Customer surveys - They should be omnichannel and automated so cross-channel data can be captured without manual effort.
Review management - It entails 360-degree monitoring of customer reviews on websites, social media platforms and review forums like Google My Business and Trust Radius.
Trend #4 - Delight, don’t just satisfy – with proactive support
Customer support models will shift from reactive to proactive and eventually to predictive mode in the coming years. This shift is a cumulative outcome of heightened customer expectations, technology advancements and digital transformation.
Customers are no longer content with reaching out to businesses in crisis situations. They expect brands to reach out to them proactively to meet their latent needs and aspirations. Moreover, they also desire proactive follow-ups and feedback loop closures from the brands they engage with.
Be a pro: To develop a proactive customer support strategy utilize:
AI-powered social listening to filter engageable messages from the noise
Automatic alerts for negative sentiment and PR crises
Contact center intelligence to measure and analyze support quality objectively
Trend #5 - Automation lends efficiency
Automation is not a new customer support trend, but in 2023, its application and impact will widen. It will lower costs, improve efficiency and drive personalization at scale by technologies such as:
Email automation: McKinsey predicts cost savings to the tune of 50% when AI and automation help categorize and route support emails, understand sentiment and intent in email messages and generate templatized responses.
Predictive analytics: When responses and recommendations are personalized to the customer journey, engagement and conversion rates soar. The best part is that 83% of customers have no qualms about sharing information in return for personalized, high-quality support.
Voice AI and IVR systems: With reported error rates as low as 5.1% (for Amazon’s Alexa and Siri), voice AI is gaining popularity for good reasons. Voice AI and interactive voice response (IVR) handle routine queries independently, bringing down call volumes and delivering instant gratification.
Point to note: Automated support work can be risky if it’s devoid of human elements like customer empathy, active listening and people-centricity. Rigorous usability testing of automated workflows should flag robotic replies and other inconsistencies that could hurt your customer’s support experience.
Trend #6 - Generative AI will disrupt support
As generative AI matures, it shows immense promise in the customer support domain by optimizing the agent and customer experience, slashing costs and reshaping customer interactions.
Conversational agents will be virtually indistinguishable from human agents, thanks to Gen AI-assisted prompts and responses. Content generation for FAQs and email auto-respondents will largely go on autopilot. After-call work will be painless as AI summarizes case notes and case disposition for smoother hand-offs.
But there’s a catch, perfectly articulated by I.Almeida in her book Introduction to Large Language Models for Business Leaders: Responsible AI Strategy Beyond Fear and Hype, and we quote:
“As generative AI becomes a core component of products, processes, and services, use case development shifts from a tactical step to a strategic capability. Organizations must invest in framing use cases rooted in customer needs, ethical principles and pragmatic execution. Only then can generative AI be leveraged for sustainable shared value.”
I.Almeida, Chief Transformation Officer at Now Next Later AI
Sprinklr Tip: As stated, pragmatic execution and use case framing drive the success of Generative AI support models. That’s where Sprinklr’s AI+ can help. It fixes response tonality, relevance and accuracy, so agents needn’t intervene at all.
For data mining and extraction, the AI model uses historical interactions, detecting typical use cases, user personas and success rates of different responses. With seamless integration with Google Open Cloud and OpenAI, it allows easy access to emerging Gen AI technologies from one platform.
Trend #7 - Leaders will prioritize agent training and upskilling
Agent training and coaching will get an impetus owing to customer expectations of continuous improvement. Talent with niche skills will be replaced by multi-faceted agents who can operate cross-channel and cross-function. Massive layoffs will force customer support leaders to hire blended agents who can drive support as well as sales if needed.
AI-led training and personalized learning will detect skill gaps and recommend individualized training programs to shorten the learning curve for new agents. Additionally, real-time coaching mechanisms will enable supervisors to barge into calls and give immediate feedback.
Lastly, remote working will reshape workplace dynamics. Businesses and teams will continue enjoying WFH benefits like added flexibility, cost efficiency and work-life balance while learning adaptive behaviors to thrive in this new normal. Increased online training and engagement programs will help overcome remote working challenges of isolation, distractions and communication gaps.
Your takeaway: You can never over-communicate enough as a leader at a company, but at a remote company, nothing could be truer. Because you don’t physically see people in person, the information doesn’t spread in the same way, so leaders need to do the heavy lifting to evangelize the message.
Trend #8 - Personalization with privacy will be the norm
At times, personalization and privacy seem contradictory concepts in customer service. Hyper-personalization can violate customer data privacy rights. Conversely, over-emphasis on data privacy can hinder personalization efforts and bland interactions.
However, when personalization goes hand in hand with privacy, the result is stellar customer experience, operational efficiency and data-driven decision-making.
“Personalization is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behavior as the most important clue about what people want and more importantly, what they need.”
Customer service leaders must establish transparency in data collection and fulfill compliance standards like GDPR and HIPAA. Data security is of utmost importance as data breaches can erode customer trust and result in legal disputes and public backlash. Similarly, consent management can be challenging when customer support policies, disclaimers and agents are unable to obtain clear consent from customers for data collection.
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Get the first-mover advantage on customer support trends with Sprinklr
As a savvy, customer-obsessed brand, you ought to prepare proactively for all upcoming customer support trends. Inertia and inaction have no place in this fast-moving landscape where the first movers become winners.
To partner your business towards success, Sprinklr Service offers futuristic capabilities purpose-built for security, personalization and automation. With AI at the core, the world’s only unified customer experience management platform can help you respond to tailwinds and ride the wave without missing a beat.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Customer service remains crucial in 2023 because it directly impacts customer loyalty, satisfaction and overall business success. Exceptional customer service fosters positive customer relationships, repeat business and improved brand reputation in a competitive market.