The digitization of companies is becoming more and more expected in all industries and customer care is no exception. Companies are changing their strategies in order to be available on more channels, and to increase their reactivity and efficiency for seamless customer care journeys. To do so, they have to take into account the major new trends that surfaced in 2017, many of which will grow in the coming months.
1. Messaging quickly developing as the lead channel to interact with customers
In 2018, one trend we are witnessing is that consumers are progressively shifting away from traditional channels like calls and text messages in favor of messaging and this is a trend that is expected to grow. Messenger and WhatsApp, used by 1.2 billion and 1.3 billion users worldwide respectively are two of the most popular messaging apps.
Companies must understand that when consumers change their habits for personal usage, their expectations towards brands also evolve. In response to this, many companies have already integrated this technology in their customer care strategy and give the option of being contacted on messaging channels.
Considering its growing importance, 2018 will be the year of messaging for large companies. Those who have not adopted it yet will soon risk alienating customers and falling behind their competitors if they do not make the effort of being available on messaging channels.
2. Chatbots and artificial intelligence will keep growing
Just like in 2017, chatbots will remain an important component in customer care strategy in 2018. After arousing high hopes for its potential and fears that they would replace humans and cut jobs, companies and users become aware of their limitations and actual potential. With the ability to make everyone’s lives easier, they have proven useful to label enquiries, solve simple issues and collect information. Human agents can thus save time to solve more complex problems.
Several large companies have already started to launch their chatbots, but always proceeding with much caution. To do so, they dedicate a bot to a channel for a single specific issue. This does not limit the potential of chatbots since their self-learning nature opens future perspectives of improvement. This includes taking into account new issues and broadening its scope of action as it learns.
However, chatbots are the most efficient when integrated into a process with human agents where they are connected to a digital customer interactions platform and can hand over the conversation to an agent when it cannot answer. This approach has a double advantage: it saves agents’ time and allows them to dedicate their energy to tasks with more added value.
The major trend is the multichannel chatbot. Companies who have tested their bot on only one channel so far will be able to launch the same chatbot on several channels at once (messaging, chat, app, etc…) to benefit from its knowledge, information gathering, and evolution through all digital customer care channels.
3. The 360° view with a CRM and DCIP integration
The third 2018 trend is the CRM/DCIP integration. We are observing a growing interest for a “360° customer view”, that allows you to know everything about a customer: his history, journey, past issues, transactions, contact information, etc…
What may have seemed impossible in the past (which software could offer such a complete customer view?) is now a reality. The integration between a CRM (which contains all transactional and personal data) and a DCIP (which contains all the data related to conversations and virtual identities) provides a perfect customer view and gives agents a better understanding of their needs.
4. Messaging, the new channel privileged by GAFA
GAFA (Google Apple Facebook Amazon) have announced their objectives and roadmaps which all converge towards a very clear idea: messaging as the future of customer care.
By switching from 140 characters to 280, Twitter gave companies more space to answer their customers. As a customer care pioneer with Messenger for several years, Facebook has announced its ambition for WhatsApp with WhatsApp for Business. Google launched a beta messaging option within Google My Business, allowing customers to talk with companies via their local page, and plans to revolutionize text messages (born in 1992) with the launch of RCS. This format will offer a messaging experience without the restriction of being linked to a specific provider. At the same time, Amazon is launching Anytime to compete with its peers and Apple plans to develop iMessage for Business in 2018.
Many international players are confirming that messaging will be the (near) future of customer care.
5. Messenger Customer Chat – A revolution for website visitors?
Live chat/web chat technologies remain essential to make sales and offer a similar online experience to the ones in stores. These channels allow businesses to interact directly with customers during their purchase journey, answer precise questions, remove obstacles and in some cases, sell more. But live chat remains a synchronous channel, much more difficult to handle for customer care teams than its asynchronous counterpart, messaging.
Even though it is still too early to tell whether it will be a success, Facebook has recently launched Messenger Customer Chat which allows companies to offer customers a live chat experience that continues beyond the website, and that will have a significant impact in 2018 and on the Web Chat future.
There is no doubt that 2018 will be the year of Digital Customer Care. As statistics have been showing for several years, phone use is decreasing, new generations prefer to use new digital channels and all companies are heading towards an omni-channel customer care approach.
Their main focus will be around data management in different customer care channels. Companies will analyse the relevance of launching proprietary channels, via web chat or messaging in their applications.
Cross channel plans will keep on evolving based on customers’ preferences, some changes closely monitored by companies. Some of them will encourage the transition from phone to digital. In this context, voice channels will have to meet the omni-digital challenge. After breaking out with personal assistants, voice channel will be strongly challenged and will have to manage this transition to last and integrate into new customer care processes, in which switching channels seamlessly is a major stake.
Finally, now that it has been established that chatbots will not result in massive job cuts, their future will depend on their integration into processes that put emotion and human empathy at the center of interactions.
With all these evolutions following us in the new year, 2018 could become the year for digital maturity of companies.
Originally published Dec 29, 2017, updated Oct 20, 2020