We’re officially in the digital age, and this means the world of customer service is changing. Digital customer service is when you provide the same high level of support through digital mediums like text (SMS), email, chat, and so on. With a reported 59% of transactions taking place fully online with digital payment, it’s time to embrace the future of digital customer service.
While in-person customer service is still essential, it’s important to recognize your customers’ lifestyles. In today’s world, most people spend a large percentage of their time online. From smartphones to email, this is the new normal. It only makes sense that this digital world goes beyond our personal lives, seeping into customer support interactions as well.
Though most modern brands and professionals are already providing some level of digital customer service, there is still change on the horizon. Now is the time to invest in the future of digital customer service strategies. From chatbots to self-serve, it’s never been more essential to take a forward-thinking approach. If there’s one thing we can all learn from the past few years of technology, it’s that things change quickly.
If you think back over the last year, you can likely already count a handful of changes in the world of customer service. That’s why you need to be one step ahead of the competition. With 90% of Americans using customer service as a factor when deciding whether to do business with a company, this is the latest competitive battleground. There’s no such thing as time travel, but we can still make educated assumptions about what the future of digital customer service looks like.
- Digital Customer Service vs. In-person Service
- Digital Customer Service Trends To Know
- Digital Customer Service Metrics To Track
- Future-Proof Your Customer Service
Digital Customer Service vs. In-person Service
First, how does digital customer service relate to in-person service? Customer service is mostly thought of in terms of in-person interactions. These are things like phone calls and in-person assistance. They involve human connection, and they’re a very important way to build your brand while making a strong impression.
On the other hand, digital customer service is a way to offer the same high level of service through digital channels. Through email, chat, social media, and so on, people get the help they need quickly with digital devices. Compared to in-person service, digital service is speedy and convenient. It empowers the customer to choose the type of communication they prefer, making it easier to meet their needs.
It’s hard to understate the effect customer service has on customers. As one of the key brand touchpoints, 3 out of 5 customers reported good customer service as an essential part of brand loyalty. Both in-person and digital customer service matter nowadays, and you can’t have one without the other. It’s all about providing convenience, personalization, and ease of access to your customer base.
Digital Customer Service Trends To Know
With that in mind, what digital customer service trends do you need to know? While you can spot many of these in action today, they’re far from widespread. By adapting to the future of digital customer service today, you future-proof your support strategy. Here are the trends that will dominate the next few years of customer service (and beyond).
Omnichannel Customer Service
To begin, omnichannel customer service is when you provide a seamless customer experience across multiple channels. These channels are all integrated within a single system, making it easier to serve your customers effectively. We can all relate to the frustration of repeatedly having to explain the situation over and over to customer support staff. If you’re just passed from one staff member to the next, it begins to feel like your concern isn’t important.
On the other hand, omnichannel customer service preserves customers’ needs across all channels. For instance, if a customer emails support on Monday about a problem with their order, they expect this to be known when they call on Tuesday. When these interactions pick up directly where they left off, customers feel valued. This translates to a strong customer experience. The Starbucks Rewards App handles this beautifully, allowing customers to explore recommended, past, and future orders both in the app, online, and by using their help feature.
Use Of Automation & Chatbots
Next, the future of digital customer service is automated. While you can’t ever fully replace the humanity in customer service interactions, customers want their needs met quickly. Having an automated tool or chatbot that can handle simple concerns cuts down on your support needs, and it means the customer gets help fast.
The proof is in the statistics. A reported 60% of customers feel long holds and wait times are the most frustrating part of a service experience. Chatbots and automated tools are more sophisticated than ever. When it comes to simple requests like order updates, refunds, and frequently asked questions, it’s time to use the latest technology to help your customers quickly. This example below shows how the hospitality platform Airbnb uses its own chatbot to respond to customer questions fast.
Self-Serve Customer Service Options
Similarly, many customers actually prefer being able to handle their concerns on their own. Only one-third of today’s companies offer self-service options even though 69% of customers first try to resolve problems on their own. A self-serve option like a knowledge base makes it easy for customers to get answers to common questions, reducing the need to speak to a brand representative.
There are a lot of examples of self-serve customer service options amongst today’s experience experts. The Walt Disney Resort, for example, invested a lot of energy into their My Disney Experience self-service portal. Available online and through an app, My Disney Experience walks guests through reservations, plans, and vacation tips so they can make the most of their time in the most magical place. More brands are following Disney’s lead, creating their own self-service portals.
Personalized Communication With Leads & Customers
Another important aspect of digital customer service in the future is the rise in personalization. When consumers interact with brands today, they expect to be treated as individuals. With 80% of consumers more likely to purchase from a brand that provides a personalized experience, this is the new way to make an impact.
Along with personalized digital communication, you also need communication between team members. If a support request is transferred between departments, for example, this shouldn’t involve sitting on hold endlessly or waiting days for a response. Ally, an up-and-coming bank, is trying to personalize the online banking experience to improve customer satisfaction.
Not only are customer support interactions personalized digitally, but it’s easy to choose a specific communication channel. From online chat to phone calls, Ally customers see current wait times with full transparency. Though simple, this level of personalization and attention to care goes a long way. As Ally continues to be named one of the best banks, it’s easy to see how they earned this trust.
Convenient Resources & Consistent Content
Lastly, you need to always stay ahead of the curve. This means providing your customers with the most up-to-date products, services, and support. Making sure your audience has access to digital resources like blog posts, how-to guides, instructional videos, and so on all ensure they’re easily able to adapt to new products/services.
The creative powerhouse Adobe does an amazing job of providing consistent resources and content for its users. The Adobe Blog has insights, inspiration, tutorials, and more to show they’re always advocating the best for their users. By following along, Adobe creative users learn more about their tools while also staying on top of industry news. Adobe is consistent, engaging, and convenient when it comes to its content. From email communications to blog posts, they know what their users want to see.
Digital Customer Service Metrics To Track
Now that you know what the future of digital customer service has in store, how do you keep track of your progress? It’s important to keep a close eye on the top customer service metrics if you want to improve. However, at the very least, make sure you track these service metrics below.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
First, your Net Promoter Score (NPS) is how likely a customer will recommend you to their own network. Consumers usually rank their experience on a scale of 1 through 10. This is a good way to identify your superfans, as well as those users who might need a bit more nurturing.
How do you track your NPS? The best way is to ask your existing customers at several points along their customer journey whether they’d recommend your brand. This can be done through email, text, or even through a website pop-up. You’ll never know how your customers feel until you ask. Though it’s easy to assume you know best, make sure you’re not jumping to conclusions.
Customer Churn Rate
Similarly, how often do you lose customers? Your churn rate is the number of individuals who stop doing business with your brand. This can relate to subscribers, followers, and consumers. When your customers churn, they might switch to a competitor, terminate service, or no longer use your product. Your goal as a business is to retain as many customers as possible, keeping them happy long-term.
When you calculate your churn rate, you gain much-needed clarity on how well you’re retaining your customers. While most brands focus on attracting new customers, your existing customers are just as important. If you’re losing existing customers, this might indicate a problem with your service or experience.
Lead Conversion Rate
Next, the lead conversion rate is the ratio of the number of leads to your total visitors. Essentially, it shows how effectively you convert visitors to your digital tools into leads. For example, if you have 100 visitors to a landing page and 10 of them fill out the form, your lead conversion rate is 10%.
Your lead conversion rate helps you strengthen your service channels, making sure you’re taking advantage of brand touchpoints. Regardless of your website or landing page hit count, none of that matters without successfully converting leads into customers. Tracking your conversion rate is the best way to effectively use your sales materials.
Average Response Time
Fourth, your average response time is essential when considering digital customer service. Digital customers expect their service to be fast and convenient. You want to have the lowest average response time possible. Though it might sound simple, this pays off.
According to Harvard Business Review, businesses that respond to phone calls within an hour are 7x more likely to have a meaningful conversation with decision-makers. You should always have an idea of your average response time so you can improve. When customers wait, you lose their trust. Let’s face it: in the digital age, we all want things now.
Average Resolution Time
Lastly, what’s your average resolution time? Similar to the point above, people want to feel their requests are taken seriously. Even if you get back to digital customers quickly, you need to take action quickly as well. Your customers are quick to lose interest, especially if it takes a long time to resolve their complaints.
You can calculate your average resolution time by taking the total time to resolve tickets during a specific period and dividing it by the number of tickets. In all service interactions, you have to balance both speed and quality of service. When you can reduce the average resolution time, you maximize your team’s efficiency. Everyone wants to feel heard, and this means completing requests fast.
Future-Proof Your Customer Service
Ultimately, when it comes to customer service, you need to always be ahead of the curve. This means not only taking inventory of your current progress but also taking steps to improve in the future. If you want to future-proof your customer service, you need to take action today.
Regardless of your industry, your customer service matters. With more consumers going digital than ever before, you need to make sure you’re ready for anything the future brings. Relying on technology to design an omnichannel strategy is the best way forward.