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Robots or real people? How will customer service change in the next decade

Elena Stolyarskaya, business coach, client service expert, talks about the main trends in the development of client service in the near future and lists 7 key changes that will affect the sphere of online and offline sales
Our life, the world around us, is changing at an unthinkable rate. Over the past 10 years, humanity has made a quantum leap in the development of technology. What once seemed a utopia is now a reality. Smartphones, social networks, Wi-Fi. We call a taxi in a couple of clicks on the phone, choose accommodation in another city, order food at home, communicate with friends from anywhere in the world. Everything is moving in a spiral of continuous development. Technologies, geopolitics, economic conditions, and business formats are changing.

People also change. Their expectations as consumers and their customer experience are also changing. Those who calculated these expectations before others and were able to implement them in their business, received a serious competitive advantage. The best brands and companies are those who fully control the entire customer experience. They are “on the wave” of the client, feel the peculiarities of the market and know what customers expect from them. It is obvious that taking into account constantly developing technologies, providing high-quality customer service becomes a priority for the development of modern companies.

In this article, we will talk about the main trends in the development of customer service, which will set the development vector for the coming years.

1. Maximum personalization of customer service is a leading trend for the coming years

Thanks to new artificial intelligence technologies, service personalization reaches a new level, becoming more complex and authentic. First of all, of course, these are “smart” automation tools-CRM systems that provide a full set of tools for analyzing customer information, accounting and effective implementation of tasks. A highly personalized approach provides the necessary information about the customer (names, preferences, previous purchases, actions in social networks, and so on).

There are new ways to recognize customers, analyze their speech and emotions. Biometric customer identification technologies have appeared on the market: by face, voice, and fingerprint. Yes, in practice, these technologies are just beginning to be implemented. This is due to limited budgets,and the fact that business does not always see the connection between the use of new technologies and commercial results. But it’s only a matter of time. In any case, the client database, client books, which collected (even manually) information about customers-this is a powerful tool for building a personalized customer service.

Trendsetters in the service world claim that one of the main trends in the near future is a return to a personalized approach to the customer and the service provided by real people, supported by new technological achievements. Therefore, it is very important to be able to communicate with the client, develop ways to motivate them to provide personal data, information about purchases, preferences, visited sites, and so on.

2. Speed of product delivery or customer problem solving

“Here and now” is the main motto for the coming years. Customers are no longer willing to wait. Today, they want to get what they want immediately. According to a survey conducted by Forrester in 2018, more than 80% of customers call a quick solution to their question/problem the best indicator of service quality. 55 % of users will refuse online purchases if they are not satisfied with the delivery time. 81 % of respondents agree that they are tired of waiting for a response from the support service. 25 % of loyal customers will switch to a competitor if they get tired of waiting.

What to do? It is important to make sure that the client receives prompt feedback, sees your response to their requests on all communication channels, and that your solutions to their questions are effective. It is important for the client to know that their request has been accepted, and you are solving their problem right now.

3. 24/7 customer support

An obvious trend in the near future is that customer support should be round-the-clock and operational. More than 60 % of consumers believe that the company should be in touch 24/7. Chatbots are an effective solution to this problem. Even now, with the help of chatbots, customers can find the necessary information, important data for them, get answers to questions, get acquainted with new offers, and much more. This technology is constantly being improved, increasing its effectiveness through artificial intelligence and speech recognition. On the example of the well-known Siri and Alice, we see that the more active the communication is, the smarter they become. And chatbots are becoming more and more an integral part of the client service of companies every day.

4. Omni-channel support as one of the leading trends of customer service

Today, the customer wants to be able to receive services as it is convenient for them. We see that users are actively switching to the online communication format, where there are already many channels and means of communication. It is very important for companies to rebuild and switch to omnichannel communications as soon as possible in order to ensure prompt response and quality control of the service for each of the channels used (phone, email, social networks, messengers). An important rule is to use the same communication channel as the client, especially when dealing with complaints and claims.

Special attention should be paid to social networks. Most customers now expect companies to offer support through social networks and expect to get it there.

According to statistics, a third of customers stop working with the company if they ignore their requests, reviews, and complaints in social networks. When consumers choose a specific channel for communication, they want a quick response. Otherwise, they will stop interacting and move to your competitors.

5. General mobilization

It is obvious that now consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to communicate, get information about the brand, company, and its product, as well as to make purchases. In 2018, mobile search recorded almost 30 billion more requests than PC search. This is especially true for the new generation of consumers. Therefore, they do not just expect, but rather take for granted the company’s website interface adapted to mobile devices. Search engines (Yandex, Google) — where the client goes directly for the necessary information, including about your company. Optimize your content and site for web search engines. This is an important part of the service, respect for your client.

6. New generation — new format

The market is getting younger. Yes, today representatives of generation Y (age 30-40 years) are a significant target audience of retail, play an important role in shaping public opinion, including determining the criteria for customer service. But by 2025, 40% of consumers will be representatives of generation Z. These are those who are now about 20 years old, who will soon form the consumer market. How and how to attract this audience?

You need to create an emotional connection with the new generation. They make a choice not in favor of material things, but emotions and impressions. For them, the experience that their friends share on their pages in social networks is important. they often rely on it when making decisions about what and where to buy. But it is important for them to be able to Express their opinions, share their experiences and feelings.

If you want to get their loyalty, encourage users, inspire them: ask them to share their photos, photos of purchased products, participate in competitions, share stories of interaction with the brand.

Conduct informal customer surveys to find out what was important to them when servicing and buying, and their overall impression of the company. The more your generation Z clients write about your company or product, the more opportunities you have to attract their environment.

The store is not just for shopping. For the younger generation of customers, this is a place for entertainment. They come to stores for events, exhibitions, socializing with friends, and drinking coffee. According to experts ‘ forecasts, in addition to the entertainment component, an educational and cultural function will soon appear in stores.

For generation Z customers, customer service is when they are interested. One way to build an emotional connection with the consumer is to engage in the game, or gamification. The generation that grew up on computer games is happy to be included in the process. The format is familiar: levels, missions and quests, leaderboards, and achievement icons. The same algorithm is used by the company in social networks. For activity (likes, shares, reposts), the user earns points, which are then exchanged, for example, for a discount in an offline store. This relatively new but growing trend “turns on” the customer’s excitement and encourages them to make purchases.

What else can you build relationships with a new generation of customers? On social consciousness. For them, it is important that the brand and the company demonstrate a certain philosophy, mission, solve environmental problems, socially important issues and problems. Knowing that the brand is socially conscious has an impact on loyalty to the company and the decision to make a purchase in it. Participation in charity and an active social position is an important feature of generation Z. Show them your support, share their views and values. For them, this will be an excellent indicator of your customer focus. But don’t try to deceive them — generation Z will immediately feel false and insincere.

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