2019 was a big year for technology adoption in various verticals, including customer service and experience. Companies saw more demand for video, real-time messaging, and greater acceptance for chatbots and artificial intelligence. Most of all, businesses made a humbling realization that price and product were no longer enough to stay competitive. Customer experience emerged as the key differentiator and continues to remain so in 2020 – the year of hyper-personalization, social support, sophisticated conversational chatbots, and more.
1. Social Support
In 2020, brands that wish to excel must embrace social support as opposed to customer support that they are already offering. Today, customers expect a brand to help them out long before they have made a purchase. They want the brands to communicate with them on their preferred channels and address their queries pro-actively, throughout the buying cycle and beyond.
Social support in customer care can be understood as proactive support – wherein the customer doesn’t have to wait to get what they want. This may include having a self-help section, offering personalized service, and integrating your data to have customer information ready whenever and wherever they contact you. Besides addressing queries and concerns effectively and speedily, social customer support focusses on constant engagement by rewarding the most loyal customers and acknowledging compliments on social media to keep the users hooked.
But why is social customer support necessary?
First, customer service is an essential factor that drives loyalty, and loyalty drives repeat sales and revenue. Second, most customers use social media to discover new products, and by meeting these customers where they are, you can increase your chances of conversion significantly. Customers acknowledge this and have a better view of brands that provide support on social media. Besides, by not responding to customers on social media, you risk disappointing them. The worst part is that everybody can see unaddressed issues on social platforms, which puts your brand in a terrible light. According to one source, failure to respond on social media can trigger a 43% decrease in customer advocacy, while a reply can boost it by 20%.
Now that you know why it is crucial to offer social support, here are some ways to do it:
- Use live chat with your social media messengers to respond to customer queries in real-time.
- Integrate your CRM with your top social media platforms and customer support tools for a higher degree of personalization.
- You may use a helpdesk tool to keep track of all customer complaints. We also suggest taking things offline by contacting a customer personally for complicated issues after responding to their comment publically.
- A social listening tool like Hootsuite will help you track all social media mentions and promptly respond to them.
2. Offer Real-Time Support
Providing support on social media is essential. A lot of customers (and thereby, revenue) shop on social media and expect timely and reliable service to make informed purchase decisions. But what do customers expect from your social support?
We have listed three main expectations that you must fulfill with your support channel:
- Speedy response
- 24/7 availability
- Helpful answers
One of the simplest and cost-effective ways to achieve the above objectives is by integrating live chat software with your social media platforms. This will ensure real-time support while reducing the burden on your support staff by allowing them to multi-task. Live chat software can also be integrated with your CRM software for personalization, helpdesk for ticket management, and features like audio and video calls, and co-browsing for effective query resolution.
Image Source: Acquire
3. Use Data to Curate Hyper-Personalized Experiences
Hyper-personalization makes use of artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time data to deliver relevant content, product, and information to each user. But what is the difference between personalization and hyper-personalization? Let’s understand this with an example. Say you are advertising some school supplies to buyers who purchased a school bag a couple of months ago. That’s personalization – building customer profiles using past shopping behavior to assume general traits and market accordingly.
Hyper-personalization takes this a step further by optimizing the ads according to the demographics of the customer, their location or mode of the purchase, etc. The aim is to dive into finer details about each customer and make individualized offers that are more relevant and appealing. Especially for Gen Z, individualization is much more useful than personalization, as revealed in an IBM study.
Hyper-personalization also helps organizations make use of omnichannel data to drive personalized experiences in real-time. By gathering data from mobiles, laptops, and wearable tech devices, companies can curate personalized experiences across the buyer journey to offer users what they want at the exact time that they want it.
To achieve hyper-personalization in your marketing, it is good to invest in a customer data platform to get access to real-time customer data and powerful insights driven by a mix of AI, machine learning, and data analytics.
4. Chatbots get on the slope of enlightenment
Chatbots are on the “slope of enlightenment” of the hype cycle with new and sustainable advancements as 2020 shapes up. The hype around chatbots, which began a few years ago, materialized into an actionable solution for customer support that took the world by storm in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, the primary benefits delivered by chatbots, that is, 24/7 service and automated query resolution, have been further amplified by the developments in NLP for contextual understanding by chatbots.
Besides support, in 2020, chatbots have emerged as useful marketing tools to capture leads and gently push them towards conversion by sharing relevant information. Chatbots are also being used for onboarding by guiding customers to self-service options like FAQs and collecting personalization data. According to one estimate, chatbots will save businesses up to $8 billion annually by 2022. Another growing trend in the field is the popularity of voice bots. Companies are increasingly focusing on voice-based interactions through smart bots powered by voice recognition. This also opens up the area of predictive speech analysis that may be used to identify new opportunities in the near future.
5. Focus on Omnichannel Marketing
Customers don’t see a brand in siloes. They expect the same experience and information regardless of the device or communication channel. Thus, besides focussing on omnichannel support, businesses also need to develop omnichannel marketing strategies for an integrated shopping experience from the first customer touchpoint to the last. Simply put, all the channels in your communication strategy must work together to create a unified message or brand for your company.
Statistically, omnichannel campaigns record more engagement than single-channel campaigns and register a higher purchase rate. Here are four tips for setting up an omnichannel marketing strategy for your business:
- Get the whole team on board – Customer centricity is the essence of an omnichannel marketing strategy. This requires greater collaboration between various teams, including sales and marketing, customer support, social media, PR, etc. It is crucial to breakdown the informational siloes to optimize customer experience.
- Know your customers – Gather customer data and feedback regularly through surveys, feedback, social listening, and analytics to and learn everything you possibly can about your customers for a personalized experience.
- Create targeted content – Targeting and personalization are vital to an omnichannel marketing strategy. We suggest customer segmentation using metrics like demographics, shopping behavior, or campaign engagement to build and share relevant content with relevant people.
- A/B testing – Customer preferences are always evolving, and what clicks with your audience today may be boring for them tomorrow. Continue A/B testing different messages, images, subject lines, posting times, etc., to identify what works for your customers to get the best results.
Customer service in 2020 is all about intuitive support or anticipating customer requirements and addressing them pro-actively. Brands can no longer wait for customers to reach out to them with issues or feedback. Instead, they need to reach out to their audience on their preferred platforms and understand their psychological makeup to make them feel acknowledged and valued. The five trends shared in this write-up would significantly improve your customer experience, resulting in customer delight and brand loyalty. Meanwhile, keep your eyes and ears open for new developments to stay up to date.