A Successful Customer Service Strategy in 2017 Starts and Ends With the Consumer

By Mayur Anadkat, VP Product Marketing

This article was originally published on VMBlog, here.

2017 Brings the Death of the Contact Center, And the Engagement Center Emerges

The evolution of the customer experience industry is a fascinating movement. Admittedly, it’s been slower than what people have wanted or expected, but I believe that 2017 brings the next evolution of the contact centers — customer engagement centers. With the modern customer using mobile devices and web to control the conversation with businesses, on their terms, noting the final shift of power of customer service into the consumers’ hands. So contact centers as we traditionally know it are becoming a thing of the past. In 2017, be on the lookout for customer engagement centers, which will allow for more than just communicating with consumers. They’ll need to be centers for proactive interactions, analysis, contextualization and more.

Artificial Intelligence Continues to Rise in Customer Service Interactions, But Humans Are Still King

This year we saw customer interactions evolve from traditional question and answer dialogues, to intelligent machines now enhancing the process and experience. Machines are learning patterns and providing answers to customers to help eliminate some of the mundane tasks that customer service agents used to handle; and intelligent machine personas like the Alexa in the Amazon Echo and Siri in various Apple devices, are paving the way. In 2017, we’ll see more capabilities when it comes to artificial intelligence and customer service like Alexa triggering a call from contact center based on a question about online order status, thermostats submitting a trouble ticket after noticing a problem with the heater, or Siri searching through a cable company’s FAQ to answer to a commonly asked question about internet service troubleshooting. However, one thing will always remain true — human interactions will still be critical when dealing with complex situations or to provide the empathy that is needed in customer service.

Companies Will Realize the Customer Service Starting Point Has Changed, And There is No Endpoint

A few years ago, if you needed directions to a new restaurant you were trying, you opened your Maps app and plugged in an address to get you where you needed to go. But now, you’re asking Siri to get you there. In 2017, companies will realize that the starting point of their customer service is changing and requires a more ecosystem approach of sharing data and processes. Consumers won’t necessarily speak directly to a company to initiate the conversation. They will talk to devices and AI-enabled personas. Similarly, companies will realize that there is no endpoint on the customer journey. Historically, it’s been the outcome that’s mattered the most. But in 2017, companies will realize that they will need to participate in a ecosystem to impact the customer’s experience, instead it’s a series of ongoing interactions between the company and customer only.

Consumers Dictate the Next Move, Companies Need to Keep Up or Die

Consumers are smarter and more connected than ever before. If companies don’t provide them with the answers they need, when they need them and in the simplest way possible, they’ll go elsewhere to get them. So in 2017, if brands don’t adopt the right technology to be able to address the needs of today’s modern customer, including multichannel interactions, they’ll risk impacting their bottom lines as customers gravitate to the companies who meet them where they are.

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