Technology is a two-sided coin for businesses.
As technology evolves, it’s an opportunity to serve more customers faster and better. You can scale more quickly and reach more people than ever before. But technology can also be a burden—keep up or you’ll be left behind.
In this post, we’re taking a bird’s eye view of the business landscape and highlighting five technology and customer service trends that customers have come to expect heading into 2017, and how to implement them in your business.
DVR. Smart homes. Puppies delivered to your doorstep.
We live in an on-demand world, and it’s no longer enough to meet your customers’ needs. They demand that you meet them NOW, and without the help of a customer service representative.
I can’t blame the market. I, for one, hate when I have to call a service provider and hold for a representative because something can’t be handled online.
More and more, customers demand automation that allows them to resolve issues independently, on their clock, outside the range of normal business hours and without having to go through a human staff member.
The upside? Automation can save your business time and eliminate errors. And, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean layoffs.
Instead, automation allows your team members to stop spending billable hours on tasks that can be automated (invoicing, some support tasks) and start focusing more time on things that can’t, like strategy and client account work.
Remember that saying about wanting to have your cake and eat it too? Today’s customer craves automation, yes, but they also expect to be able to reach you 24 hours a day should the need arise.
Thankfully, the rise of the “24 hour workday” has also given rise to a new crop of service providers designed to help you look like you’re on call around the clock, even if you’re not.
Helpscout, for example, offers outsourced customer support on-demand (use it as a full customer service solution, or after your regular employees leave for the day), while services like HelpOnClick allow you to automatically respond to many of your most common support inquiries with a convenient on-site chat window that works any hour of the day or night.
As of mid-2016, a third of all online time is spent watching video. That means for every hour a person is online, he or she is watching videos for 20 minutes! That’s a whole lot of clicks on the ‘Play’ button, and it’s likely to continue its upward trend in the year ahead.
If social networks are any indication, video is a great spot to dedicate resources. Facebook alone invested a reported $50 million in 2016 to entice brands and influencers to create videos on the platform, and Mark Zuckerberg himself has been quoted saying that within five years, the platform will be mostly video.
Customers prefer to consume content visually, and you can capitalize on that attention by adopting a “video first” mentality.
If you have a library of FAQs on your website, for example, you might record a short screencast to go along with each one using a tool like Screencast-O-Matic. If your product requires a user’s guide, offer a selection of how-to videos that demonstrate each step. Video is also an excellent tool to upsell existing customers on additional, related products.
You should also be thinking seriously about video as part of your brand’s social media strategy. With the rise of video platforms like Facebook Live, it’s never been easier to reach a massive audience in real time. We talk more about how to take advantage of live video in this post.
Comprehensive self-serve information
Let’s say you sell home security systems. Someone using your system wants to know, “can I connect my security system to my smartphone?”
Where’s the first place they’re going to turn to find the answer to their question? No, they’re not going to bother to call you; they’re going to go on the internet. If they can’t find the answer on your website, you can bet they’re going to find it somewhere else!
Today’s customer expects to be able to research things independently, solving problems and answering questions from the comfort of their couch. To accommodate this, businesses must anticipate the types of information customers and prospective buyers will be searching for and fill their websites with content accordingly.
Think of your website not just as one more advertising medium, but as a virtual content library dedicated to anything and everything a buyer might want to know about your product or industry. Your goal should be to become not just a place to shop, but a place people go to learn.
Universal screen optimization
Last but absolutely not least, 2017 means mobile everything—but not just mobile.
Now more than ever, the user experience extends across multiple screens, with consumers browsing, researching, using social and email via mobile device and turning back to their desktop or laptop to make a purchase. Thus, having a website/platform that’s optimized for all screen sizes is simply not an option anymore, It’s a necessity.
What are the biggest trends you anticipate in your field in 2017? Have you adapted to the five mentioned above? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts below.
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