Customer Care Trends 2019: Convenience is Key
With January coming to a close, it’s a good time to look back at customer care predictions from the last months of 2018 and gather stock of which customer service trends are expected to boom in the coming months. While it’s too early to confirm any predictions, there are a lot of repeated points in analysis from leading communication platforms and customer service influencers: it’s clear that some topics have garnered more attention and relevance than others. Chatbots, privacy and data protection, convenience, mobile and mobile messaging, virtual assistants, and personalization are all at the top of the back. The focus is on convenience, customer-centricity, and of course, innovative technology. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting and relevant points:
Let’s start with an obvious one: data protection. Data security scandals and the resulting focus on more regulation was one of the biggest stories of 2018. This has had a big effect on customer experience trends, with advisors and anlaysts recommending a much stronger focus on privacy and transparency. American customer service expert Blake Michelle Morgan focuses on this in an article she wrote for Forbes, focussing on how responsible data processing can be a differentiator when customers choose between different businesses in a market.
“Data Ethics Comes To The Forefront”
“2018 was a banner year for data ethics with the start of the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. The law gives customers power over their personal data and allows all EU citizens to choose what information of theirs companies have and remove their data from company databases for any reason. As you probably know already, companies not in compliance with GDPR risk being fined millions of dollars. GDPR changed how companies around the world handle their customer data and transitioned data from a business asset to a customer’s property. … Customers have the power and want great customer experiences from brands they can trust.”
Customer Care Chatbots
Chatbots have slowly but surely been entering the customer service arena for some time now — Facebook Messenger already boasts over 200,000 active Chatbots, and WhatsApp chatbots are also growing more and more popular. From shopping helpers in the UK to banking services in Nigeria to job application assistants in Germany, Chatbot cases are highly customizable and can raise customer engagement as well as save resources for customer care. Twitter and CustomerThink both see 2019 as the year in which Chatbots are truly embraced for their versatile customer support possibilities.
“Customer care bots still evolving and will continue to rise”
Customer care bots, or chatbots, allow companies to offer 24-hour, automated replies that can instantly help customers navigate a technical issue or even order their lunch. … Chatbots may not have been the solution of 2018, as was widely predicted, but they aren’t going anywhere. Expect them to keep growing and evolving. According to a CNBC report, chatbots could cut business costs by $8 billion by 2022.” – Twitter
“Chatbots: the year of maturity”
We predict that 2019 will be the year of maturity for chatbots. Experts and vendors from across the chatbots industry agree on the technology’s limitations, and that it cannot fully replace a human being. Experience shows that the keys to success are to dedicate chatbots to simple and specific requests. A seamless handover to human agents is essential to ensure that customers can always have an answer to their specific questions. With this approach, customer service representatives can reduce their workload and dedicate more time to added value tasks.” – CustomerThink
Here, CustomerThink specifically proposes using hybrid Chatbots to get the best of both worlds: the speed and convenience of a Chatbot, together with the expertise and flexibility of a human customer service employee. We have specifically talked about the advantages of hybrid solutions in our article How Chatbots Can Be Successful in Customer Service.
“Customers want convenience.”
“How easy are you to do business with? Do your policies and processes create friction for the customer? Customers will do more business with the companies that are easiest to work with. And they may even pay more – a lot more.”
Shep Hyken mentions a lot of interesting trends in his 10 Customer Service/Customer Experience Predictions for 2019 article for Forbes, but convenience is one of the most convincing, and it ties into two of his other ten points: a focus on customer experience and on mobile phones. The more convenient it is to contact your business, the easier you fit into your customer’s life – and with messaging app usage growing, offering mobile communication is a great way to easily connect with your customers.
“Customer experience will rise to the top of the marketing agenda. This plays on the statistics mentioned at the beginning of this article. While companies are spending more on CX and making it a priority, the real impact is on the marketing department. Customer service and customer experience has been, and will continue to be, one of the best marketing investments a company can make.
It’s still mobile to the max. The mobile phone is not really about the phone. Some people barely use the phone part of their mobile phone. They use the apps to connect with their friends, family, companies and other organizations. They read, shop, learn and communicate using apps – not voice-to-voice communication. If you haven’t already done so, find a way into your customers’ mobile devices.”
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Echoing Shep Hyken’s predictions are the MDG Advertising Agency and of course, Facebook itself. Both focus on how messaging apps are becoming a channel that brands can’t afford to miss out on, and one that is already being used around the globe.
“The rise of the stories format is highly important to marketers, but another shift in social media behavior may be even more impactful: the rapid adoption of messaging apps. In her 2018 Internet Trends report, tech soothsayer Mary Meeker highlighted a fact that marketers often overlook: three messaging platforms (WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger) now have more than 1 billion monthly active users, and the growth of these types of apps continues to be breathtaking. It’s believed that the majority of digital sharing is now occurring on “dark” (i.e., one-to-one) channels such as messaging apps rather than via public feeds. This could have huge implications for brands looking to connect with audiences in 2019.”
“Messaging Businesses is the New Normal”
Facebook’s comprehensive analysis about business messaging offers an impressive assortment of data about professional messenger communication in a variety of countries.
- “Across 8 markets surveyed globally, 80% of adults message daily.“
- “51% of people say messaging has replaced other forms of communication.“
- “Looking across 15 markets, we see that mobile-first emerging markets are leading the charge here. Leapfrogging past the rest of the world in their adoption of new technology, people surveyed in emerging markets are 2.4x more likely than those in mature mobile markets to say they message businesses.“
- Across Colombia, Germany, Mexico and the US, 71% of people surveyed say they’re open to messaging businesses.
These facts are all striking, and certainly convincing enough reasons to start offering customer care via messaging apps. However, these last two points in Facebook’s article are the most interesting:
“More than 1 in 2 people surveyed across 15 markets consider business messaging the “modern way to communicate.” But perhaps most powerfully, nearly 40% of people surveyed globally consider messaging to be a communication method that is “offered by many businesses.””
There’s already competition out there – businesses who want to be on top of customer care trends in 2019 can’t miss offering messaging apps as a communication channel. Luckily, platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, and more can be used to offer customers a host of advantages for the 2019 digital landscape: convenient contact over their most-used smartphone function, automated Chatbot support for 24-hour answers and a secure, private channel.
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