Although 2015 has only just began, based on forecasts from top firms, this year is set to be dubbed "The Year of the Customer." So much is shifting and rapidly changing in the world of customer service, from advanced cloud-based technologies to the rise of self-service and even advancements in the social customer service sphere. All of these things are driven from the explosion of touchpoints accessible for consumers to effectively engage with brands to get the answers they want and the resolutions that they need.

It is proven that receiving great customer service triggers the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved, sometimes even increasing heart rate. So love on your customers extra this year and make sure you're on point to align with these 5 customer service game changers.

Your Customers Expect a Multi-Channel Experience

Customers nowadays carry in the palm of their hand a device that supports dozens of ways to reach you, and they can do just that at any given moment. In 2015, customer care plans that are not fully multi-channeled will become obsolete. Consumers expect to be able to find the answers and resolution they need through whichever channel they choose. This also means that you must be prepared with the right cloud-based, customer automation platform to track your customer as they "jump" channels. This makes their experience with your company seamless, convenient and ensures customer loyalty.

They Got This--Customers Want Self-Service

In the past, customer service focused on "delighting their customers." While it's true that "good" customer service is proven to evoke the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved, in this day and age your customers just want to be able to find the answers they need with as little friction as possible. By implementing a self-service engagement platform, a pretty wide market of platforms being led by nanorep, companies can increase chances of customers finding the answers they need at every touchpoint. Web self-service is the most widely used channel for customer service according to a new survey by Forrester.

Moving forward this will be the norm. Human interactions are still valuable in customer service, but only when absolutely necessary in accordance with high-value escalations. Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with enterprise without interacting with a human.

Ain't Nobody Got Time to Wait, The Right Time is All the Time

The internet doesn't sleep, and sometimes when your customers are having a crisis or need an answer, they aren't sleeping as well. An effective customer care program will include 24/7 support to help your customers at the right time--their time of need.

Also, how quickly you answer has become just as crucial as the answer itself. The longer the wait for resolution, the bigger the blow to your customer's loyalty. In a recent study, LIthium technologies discovered that 53% of customers who pose a question on Twitter, expect the brand to respond within an hour...and 72% expect resolution in an hour if it's a complaint specifically. Your customers don't have time to wait for you to get around to their queries, and they will move on to your competitor if you aren't on top of their needs.

SMS is the New-Old Channel

Crazily enough, the banking and airline industry are a few steps ahead of the rest of us in this untapped medium. They are industry leaders in utilizing text messages to proactively provide service to their customers. It is a bit risky as a bombardment of SMS's can be a huge turnoff. The truth is that mobile is taking over the world and SMS's get read at a much higher volume that emails. In fact, 90 percent of all SMS are read within the first three minutes of being sent.

Right now, only 7 percent of consumers use SMS as a viable means to communicate with brands. But this is about to change. The same behavior that drives Self-Service is driving SMS customer service. Your customers don't want to use call channels unless absolutely necessary. SMS is non-intrusive, low impact and easily manageable solution.

Social Customer Service Goes Next Level

We know you're thinking, "social media is so 2010." Yes, you've got a social media presence, you monitor it and respond timely to your customers. Your social game is above par, but 2015 is about to redefine how you can serve your customers on social.

Monitoring and responding to social is simply not enough. Now the focus will be on capturing, routing and resolving these queries from your centralized customer automation platform. Your customers have already defined where and how they will interact with you, it's time that it becomes centralized and aligned with the rest of your efforts.

This also entails proper escalation paths for resolution that go beyond the simple, "please call our support center at 555-555-5555 or email our team to learn more at contact@contact.com." This simply will not suffice. Picture in 2015, clicking directly in the social query a link that opens a box to a live chat agent? This is a seamless escalation path that can also be logged with other customer interaction in your CRM so that Social is no longer an entity unto itself, but rather an integrated part of your entire customer care plan.

Published on: Jan 21, 2015