Are you ready to be your best self? This may sound like the start to a motivational book, but the truth is, it’s a question we all ask ourselves. Whether it’s your daily organization, relationship or addiction to junk food, we all have room to improve. Your business is no different in that sense. And when it comes to the success of your brand, customer satisfaction is the name of the game. You may be selling the most revolutionary product since sliced bread, but this won’t matter if your customers feel that their voices are not being heard.
So the million dollar question is: How do I make my customers happy? Well, we’re glad you asked. Everybody knows that great customer support requires a well-organized help desk software and a lot of empathy and dedication. But what makes the difference between good and great customer care is your ability to know and anticipate the market’s needs. From personalization to voice search and data protection, here are the top eight customer service trends of 2019 and how to get them right.
01. Live chat is king
Nobody likes to wait. This shouldn't come as a surprise if you’ve ever counted down for the release of your favorite TV show’s latest season. The exact same concept applies to your customers when they need you to solve a problem they’re having with your product or service. The good news is that you can easily alleviate this pain point by using live chat software. A study found that 52% of people prefer to seek support through instant messaging than phone or email. That number will only continue to grow in 2019. Why? Two words: Instant gratification. In the world of Amazon deliveries and Instagram likes, we expect to get what we want when we want it..
First things first: What is live chat and why do I need it anyways? In a nutshell, live chat allows your customers to engage with you in real time by typing a message that will automatically appear on your desktop or smartphone screen. Having live chat will make you more user-friendly, approachable, and most importantly, appealing to potential clients. Live chat can be incorporated and used on several platforms. There are two platforms every business owner should know about:
Your very own website: Using live chat on your website ensures that you never miss a question or message again. This is all while allowing you to engage with your visitors on-the-go. The results for your business will be stunning, as a study recently found that Wix Chat users saw a 33% increase in bookings and 39% in sales. Adding a chat widget to your site is the difference between meeting customers expectations and exceeding them.
Facebook Messenger: This was released by Facebook in 2011 as a stand-alone messaging service. Ever since, new features have been constantly added, such as labels, analytics, automated replies and more. If you’re serious about engaging with your customers and target audience on social media, then using Messenger is a must.
Want to create an even more user-friendly experience with live chat? Successful users always make sure to provide automated greetings to let their customers know, whenever they’re not online, that you got their message and an answer is on the way. You can also use this feature to stock saved replies to the most frequently asked questions - of course, it’s important not to overuse this option, as your visitors still want real human interaction. Much like a
mouthwatering, decadent chocolate cake, canned replies are best used in moderation. Finally, it’s highly recommended to offer an alternative method of contact for users willing to take some DIY assistance. This is the whole purpose of having a well organized and up-to-date help desk center, filled with resources such as tutorials, guides and FAQ’s. Want more? This guide explains how to craft great knowledge base articles.
2. Social media is here to stay
Fact: Your brand must have a social media presence, especially when it comes to providing quality support. Social media is no longer a trendy new concept, it is a business necessity as 63% of customers expect companies to offer support via these platforms. Furthermore, a presence on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram makes your brand appear more authentic and reputable. This is significant because consumers need to feel they can trust you before they are willing to purchase your product or service.
On top of this, being active (and showing it) on social media enables you to meet your clients where they are at. If they can’t contact you on these channels, which host more than half of the world population already, then it’s time to make a change. Do not make them look for you because they will not search for long. Instead, they will find a competitor who better meets their needs.
3. The rise of omni-channel
Omni-channel may sound like a term in a long-forgotten French vocabulary quiz. But, it basically is defined by what it says: One support platform that rules them all. In concrete terms, it means that all your customer service channels (e-mail, phone, social media, etc.) are centralized into one seamless platform. This way, whenever a customer reaches out to you on Facebook and then contacts you again on the phone, you’ll be able to track the history of their contact with you. You save a lot of time, are more efficient, and your customer doesn’t have to repeat their pain point for the trillionth time - which means, overall, a much better and personalized customer experience.
So, it’s no surprise to hear that omni-channel is becoming one of the (if not the) buzzwords of 2019. 92% of customers say that they would stop purchasing from a company after three (or less) poor client service experiences. Having a strong omni-channel software and using it right becomes, in that context, the most natural and efficient way to tackle this issue, for you and for your team.
4. Personalization, personalization, personalization
Customers want more than fast service - they want to feel important (and let’s face it, they are!). Say goodbye to generic responses and anonymous phone service. 2019 is all about being professional and relatable at the same time. There are different levels you can take to accomplish personalization:
The first is data optimization. As we wrote before, a good omni-channel platform gives you an updated and full history of your interactions with any specific customer. This means that anytime they’ll reach out to you again in the future, you’ll be able to welcome them with a clear understanding of the way that they want to be approached, their taste, and pain points.
The second is language adaptation. Not so long ago customers would expect a “professional” brand to sound extremely formal. But, over the last few years and thanks to the development of social media, brands are expected to adopt an informal and down-to-earth voice. On the phone, this can translate to calling your customer by their first name and using a friendly tone. On social media, consider using emojis and GIFs to add a more human and “authentic” touch to the conversation.
The third is brand authenticity. Personalization should never compromise your business identity. Staying true to who you are is the best way for your customers to feel that they’re interacting with a conscious and genuine company. It might sound obvious, but some recent marketing fails show the need to reassess. For example, a business selling bespoke baby toys has a very different voice than a freelance accounting business.
5. Did someone say: “Voice search?”
By 2020, 30% of Web searches will be done without typing on a screen. People already use voice search capabilities to look for products and store hours while cooking or commuting. But how is this relevant to you? Google will most likely give a stronger preference to websites that are optimized for voice search needs. The key difference between regular searches and voice search is that digital assistants will be asked to “fetch” information and return one “optimal” answer. Your content must be optimized for this new way of displaying the information. Here are the main actions you should take to optimize your content for voice search:
Add long-tail search terms: Voice search is changing the way we look for information. Did you know that people speak faster than they type? This is significant because it means that the keywords will tend to be longer and more specific. While the typed keyword average is about two words long, voice searches should be about five words. This means that you should always try and describe your products or services as accurately as you can when mentioning them on your website.
Include question words like who, what, where, and when: What do all these words have in common (hint: It is not the letter “w”)? These are the words we use when asking a question. Let’s say you are looking to order a pizza. You could type “Pizza” and get a long list of options, or, you could ask for exactly what you want “Where is the closest pizza parlor” or “ Where can I get vegan pizza.” By searching for the actual questions customers might ask to find you, and ensuring that your content really answers their questions, you’ll be able to find potential clients and convert them into paying customers.
Go local: It is no secret that we are headed to a more “mobilized” world and with that comes a need to boost your local SEO. Voice search is especially popular on mobile devices. Often people will use voice search to find local options. Like we said before, people don’t want to wait. They are looking for a solution that is at their fingertips. They will look for options using words such as “near me” or “close to me.” It is important to focus on these people because they tend to be the ones ready to make a purchase. But, they will need to know where to find you first. Make sure that your NAP information (name, address and phone number) is clear, easy to find, and updated in local directories and all your other online outlets (such as your social media accounts). This way, search engines can easily direct customers straight to you.
Direct answers: Have you ever seen those boxes that appear at the top of search engine result pages? It’s called the “local pack,” and your goal is to get your business in that box. When a person looks for information using a voice device such as Alexa or Ok Google, they will not hear a full list of options. They don’t have the time for that. This is why Google issues a list of three top options when someone searches for a business using Google Maps. A great start to get yourself into this exclusive “Club” is to make sure that your Google My Business profile is strong. Then, you want to make sure that you create content that is well organized and directly answers your customers queries. Instead of using a title such as “Contact us,” try “How to contact us” followed up by a list of steps describing exactly what to do. You do not need to reinvent the wheel. Rather, give your content a much needed face life. It is all in the details.
6. Chatbots are taking over (or are they?)
Once upon a time, chatbots were a little more than robotic conversation creators, dishing out generic automated messages and clogging up your chat room. In 2019, chatbots are a whole different ball game. If customer service were a sport, chatbots would be key players on the all-star team. By key players, we mean that they are the stars of assists, tackling all the elementary and repetitive situations, all while saving you valuable time and money to score with the most complex cases. As much as AI (Artificial Intelligence) grew over the last few years, consumers still turn towards real human beings to deal with challenging questions that need an immediate answer.
To sum it up: Chatbots are definitely a thing, but work best when coupled with human support agents.
7. Data protection and the GDPR evolutions
Let’s go back to basics: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most important change in data privacy regulations in the past 20 years. GDPR is technically a European Union regulation, but as the Internet has no boundaries, it’s something that virtually any company on the Internet should be concerned about. From a customer perspective, it also makes total sense that legislation is taking over the issue of data protection because, at the end of the day, we all want our personal information to be safely guarded. And with large companies suffering from data breaches (think of the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytical scandal, for example), customers will be (in 2019 more than ever) on high alert and looking for the company that will defend their information.
What does this exactly mean for your business? Your reputation is your most valuable asset. 75% of consumers will not buy products from a company if they cannot trust them to protect their data. Protecting your customers’ data and privacy creates trust which helps grow and build your business. Not only should you protect your customers’ data - you should be explicit about it - this is probably the main takeaway from the GDPR regulation. So, make sure that your data protection policy complies with all the latest guidelines and is stated clearly in an easy to find support article of your knowledge base. This way, your customers will know they can trust you.
8. Support culture becomes a thing
Great customer support culture isn’t just one department, it's an overall philosophy and value, which affects everyone from the CEO to your summer intern. Over the last years, we’ve seen that major companies were very demonstrative about the stress they put on the customer support. In 2019, this is a standard that customers will expect from any organization, no matter its size or industry. As a consequence, everybody (and not only your stunning support representatives) should collaborate to create the best possible experience. If a customer has a tech-related question that the support team can’t answer, your tech team or developers should be ready to pitch in and help out. Holiday-themed campaigns may seem like the most crucial element of marketing your business, but that’s in fact incorrect.
Customer support is actually your first and most important line of defense to creating a positive brand association. Simply put, good customer support is good marketing. You could have the world’s best product, but without a strong support team and customer experience, it is worthless. If you really want to succeed you need to bring your A-game. Your customers will thank you.
Customer support expectations will only continue to grow with time. As 2018 comes to a close, it is time to reflect on the past and look for those places where you can improve. Nobody is perfect. Ensuring customer satisfaction is a little but like chasing the end of a rainbow. You will constantly be on the hunt, searching for that pot of gold, but with these tips to guide the way and trusted tools like your help desk software, you might just reach that ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ place.