Emerging trends in customer service. By Rob Mead 

As we pass the halfway point of 2023, it’s becoming increasingly clear that customer service expectations and trends are constantly evolving, and many retailers are stepping up to meet these demands. Discussing these trends and understanding where the industry is right now is important because it ensures we continue moving forwards in the right direction with customer support. And since retail businesses haven’t been without their fair share of challenges, these need to be factored into the conversation.

Rob Mead

One of the biggest growing trends is the availability of face-to-face video support options. During the pandemic, it became commonplace to use video chat services such as Skype and Zoom to offer the same support that was previously only offered in-store. Now, businesses have had time to evaluate the effectiveness of this technique, and many have chosen to adopt it and offer face-to-face support from anywhere, anytime. Customers value their time and appreciate personalized support. And as technology has risen in popularity, some customers have expressed worries that customer support could lose its personal and human touch in a bid to become as efficient as possible. So, by offering this feature, businesses can provide customers with the option to connect face-to-face and receive the support they need in a way that works best for them.

Retailers have also begun to increase their use of automation and artificial intelligence for smaller support tasks, which has become crucial as customers now expect high-quality service for all their support needs, regardless of the size of the task. From answering questions in social media comments to creating FAQs and knowledge bases for customers to gain self-service support, this can benefit customers by allowing them to resolve issues quickly and more efficiently than before.

Automation doesn’t just benefit the customer, though. Customer support staff and entire businesses can now benefit from the latest technologies providing excellent workforce management tools to help organize the best scheduling and redirect customers to the right people and places with ease. Without adopting these automation tools, businesses with long call center wait times due to staff shortages or lack of management could fall behind their competitors.

Customers highly value personalization as a crucial component of their user experience, and this desire generally hasn’t changed much despite all the other shifts within the industry. The only change in this area is that personalization techniques are becoming more and more unique and advanced. For example, customer service technology can now work across multiple platforms to ensure that customers don’t need to repeat details already exchanged. In addition, businesses can learn more about their customers than ever through advanced customer data and metrics collection with AI and automated services readily available.

Although chatbots and messaging tools are still popular, another big trend we’re seeing in the industry is that customers are seeking proactive solutions and support from online retailers. This means that they want multiple options for how to receive their support, but these must be available at their convenience and offer the right solution the first time. Customers are no longer settling for businesses that can’t offer a first contact resolution quickly and promptly. As a result, businesses need to evaluate their current support options and check that these are still offering the most proactive responses and support for their customer base at this time. Otherwise, they could risk losing customer loyalty and see retention rates deplete.

Immersive experiences are popping up everywhere. From clothing try-ons to 360-degree viewings from online car dealerships and property sites or apps, there’s already plenty of AR and VR integrated into retail sites and apps. With these technologies rapidly developing, we should expect to see more of these features pushing the boundaries and starting to showcase products and entire brands in virtual reality settings. We’re seeing new developments with this type of technology every day, so it’s difficult to say where it could end up even just in the next six months of 2023. It could benefit customer support staff training, create better customer experiences, and improve satisfaction – the boundaries of it could be endless.

Finally, retailers can’t overlook the influence of inflation on their businesses and customer behaviors. Customer spending on non-essential items has already taken a dip, and finding new ways to keep them engaged during this time will be a challenge. To counter this, we’re likely to see more creative marking campaigns launched that focus less on spending and more on the brand so that when customers can spare their cash for non-essential spending again, they’re already aware of which businesses they want to support. Whether your customers respond best to email marketing or social media, you’ll need to think about how to keep their attention during this difficult financial period without doing any damage to your
own profits.

Rob Mead
Rob Mead is Head of Strategic Marketing at Gnatta. Revolutionize your customer service with Gnatta’s modern helpdesk solution. Say goodbye to traditional ticketing systems and instead say hello to a comprehensive view of your customers and enhance productivity with customization tools and round-the-clock support from its UK-based team.