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Top 10 Customer Experience Trends to Watch in 2017: CX Firm HGS Forecasts Age of “Effortless Experiences”

waiter serving cup of coffee to manReport Points to a New Imperative of Creating Effortless Customer Engagement

In 2016, the customer management services industry saw the rapid growth of game-changing technologies, fueling digital transformation across businesses. In 2017, creating effortless customer engagement and revolutionizing customer support will be the “new” imperative to meet consumer expectations and compete in the marketplace, says new research from customer experience optimizing firm HGS in its new report, What’s Next in CX: Top 10 Trends to Reduce Customer Effort in 2017.

“Effortless experiences that lead with self-service and intelligently integrate people at key moments of truth, and leverage analytics and automation to optimize the CX are the fastest way to control costs and balance the needs of a consumer business to move beyond the traditional voice contact center approaches to reactively triaging phone calls,” said Chris Lord, global head of strategy and DigiCX, the company’s leading-edge digital transformation practice, in a news release.

Here are the Top 10 trends identified by HGS in customer support for 2017:

1. Intelligent Self-Service: Millennial customers—75.4 million in the United States alone—are about to become the most important (and disruptive) customers businesses will ever see. They demand effortless experiences—answers within seconds, not minutes—and more intelligent self-service options. There are many forms of self-service, from website FAQs, how-to videos, to idea portals, and more. In 2017, a smarter, more strategic self-service approach will significantly increase the issue resolution rate for most companies. Analytics from this process will also help businesses understand top contact drivers to continuously evolve and update the help centers in real time.

2. Chatbots: Conversational Commerce and Service: Chatbots unlock the ability for brands to provide personalized, conversational commerce and service similar to talking to a human customer service rep, but at a scale that is much cheaper than a traditional call center. Expect to see chatbots being deployed even more across service channels such as chat, social and text in 2017.

3. The End of Channel Preference, and the Beginning of Channel Guidance: According to Matt Dixon, author of The Effortless Customer Experience, “Channel choice was an idea companies invented. Customers don’t want choice; they want channel guidance.” Today’s customers want to get the right answer, fast, regardless of channel. Companies will need to refocus from offering a wide array of channel options to strategically guiding customers in their online help centers to the best channel for resolution, depending on the reason for contact.

4. Contextual Knowledge Bases for Personalization, Prediction: Customer engagement is fueled by customer data. Today’s brands have the ability to capture even more actionable data to provide customers with better service. Key learnings from channel choice, purchase history and service interactions can be used to build predictive models for issue resolution. Through research and predictive analytics, companies can develop more personalized customer experiences. In 2017, companies should focus on creating a contextual knowledge base that can be used by both agents and customers. The end result will be faster responses, increased issue resolution, reduced customer effort, and happier customers.

5. Customer Intelligence and Real-time Dashboards: A single dashboard that captures relevant real-time data points and uses text analytics to decode the exchange of information will enable service professionals to keep a pulse on customer sentiment and feedback. This intelligence will help customer care centers proactively identify potential issues, capture new ideas, spot trends, and most importantly, personalize engagement with the customer.

6. Mobile Convergence Requires “On-the-go” Customer Support Strategies: By the end of 2016, the number of smartphone users reached 2.1 billion globally. Consumers have been “rewired” mentally and emotionally to their smartphones and tablet devices. This year, expect to see more customer service teams jump on board to provide text, mobile messaging via Facebook Messenger, and interactive visual IVRs that help guide customers to the right answer fast while on the go.

7. Rise and Recruitment of More CX Data Scientists and Analytics Professionals: Customer service teams live in a world of “unstructured” data. With the increased sophistication of analytics tools, companies should hire more data professionals who can help make sense of the data and help inform the implementation of new digital strategies to thrive in today’s marketplace.

8. Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and 3D Hologram Displays: In 2017, the customer service industry will significantly increase their experimentation using VR, AR and 3D displays to differentiate their tech support strategies. For example, a customer can aim their smartphones at a product, and a 3D version of the product will pop up on screen, along with interactive guides, how-to videos, tips, or even the ability to connect with a customer service rep via video.

9. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Automation: Expect to see enhanced collaboration between man and machine to deliver the next-generation customer experience. Robots will do most of the heavy lifting, while human agents will continue to oversee the process and be the final editor of responses to customers. AI and machine learning will help companies reduce cost and help make our agents’ work easier, more intelligent, and more productive.

10. Digital Assistance—Voice Search: Apple (Siri), Amazon (Alexa), Microsoft (Cortana) and Google (Google Now) are all competing to make the best digital assistant. Through continuously learning from human interactions over time, the digital assistant’s artificial intelligence capabilities will expand to handle more interactions, allowing live agents to focus their time and talent on high-value customers and more complex or critical issues.

Download the complete report here.

Source: Business Wire; edited by Richard Carufel

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