What does 2024 hold for customer service? And how can your business get ahead?
Customer service has seen dramatic shifts over the last few years. In 2020, most contact centers worked 100% remotely during a global pandemic. Most recently, AI burst onto the scene, leading to speculation that contact center agents would lose their jobs.
All of these changes raise a lot of questions for businesses. Do you still need to hire more contact center agents as AI becomes more widely used? Is it time to bring everyone back to the office? And how should you ensure your tech support meets customer demands?
Below, we go over the top customer service trends you need to know so you can get a jump start on preparing for the year ahead.
Virtualization will be critical to improving agent performance
Virtualization, or virtualized devices, is becoming a crucial tool for agent training. Virtual devices simulate the same functionality as physical devices but without the added cost of maintaining a library of them.
With virtualization, agents can simulate swiping and pressing buttons or scenarios such as out-of-the-box setup. It also allows contact center agents to switch between multiple versions of the same device, helping them to create a more tailored tech support experience.
Adopting virtualization helps companies increase first-call resolution rates (FCR) and improve customer satisfaction. Businesses can also experience significant cost savings. Using virtualization has helped Verizon save millions of dollars per contact center annually.
Want to learn more about virtualization?
Self-service options will keep growing in popularity
The demand for self-service will continue to increase in 2024. 88% of customers expect companies to provide self-service options. And customers aren’t giving second chances to companies that fail to meet their expectations. 96% of customers leave a business after one bad service experience.
But customer self-service doesn’t just help your customers; it benefits your business, too. Companies that provide self-service options save money by reducing tech support costs. Self-service also boosts customer retention rates.
But how can you ensure your business provides an exceptional customer experience? Below are a few general guidelines for providing the best customer self-service:
- Make it easy for customers to find self-serve options in one place.
- Regularly update your support content.
- Ensure your content is WCAG 2.0 compliant so it’s accessible to customers with disabilities.
- Provide content in a variety of formats, such as videos and interactive tutorials.
Gen Z continues to drive rapid change in customer service
Gen Z is rapidly transforming customer service, forcing companies to pivot quickly to meet the demands of this influential generation. Gen Z, often called zoomers or iGen, is defined as those born between 1997 and 2012. Unlike previous generations, these people can’t remember a time before the internet and grew up in an era of instant grocery deliveries and on-demand streaming.
This fast-paced reality has drastically shaped this generation’s expectations of businesses. And with $360 billion in spending power, they’re a key demographic for the success of your broadband or telecom company’s customer service strategy.
So, what do zoomers want when it comes to customer service? In short, omnichannel tech support. Most of iGen don’t want to use the phone to get tech support. Research shows that over 80% don’t want to call contact centers.
Instead, alternative platforms like social media are becoming popular among Gen Zers. A recent survey found that 90% of iGen expect your company to be active on social media. The same survey found that 13% say social media is their preferred channel for tech support. Another 57% prefer email for customer service communications.
Gen Z also wants answers faster than any other generation before. Nearly half of Gen Zers hang up less than a minute after waiting on hold. So, not only do companies need to provide omnichannel support, but businesses also need to scale support in a way that lets zoomers access the information they need on demand.
More customers will turn to chatbots for tech support
Customers are increasingly turning to chatbots for customer service, and that trend will continue into 2024. There are many benefits to using chatbots in customer service. Chatbots can provide instant access to tech support 24/7, satiating the needs of key customer demographics like Gen Z.
Additionally, using chatbots can save companies money while scaling tech support. This is especially helpful for regional service providers that want to maintain competitive tech support even with a limited budget. Chatbots can also help businesses save money, increase customer satisfaction and improve net promoter score (NPS).
Smart home support will be key to broadband company success
Smart devices are becoming increasingly popular among U.S. consumers, and broadband companies need to provide effective smart home support.
It’s estimated that 57% of US households will have a smart device by 2025, and businesses must adapt to meet the rising need for support. Companies that re-shape broadband service architectures to provide better smart home support will tap into lucrative new revenue opportunities. It’ll also help these businesses stand out in an increasingly competitive market.
But what steps should your company take to enhance tech support for smart devices? Below are a few ways broadband providers can provide better smart home support:
- Help customers get the most out of their smart devices.
- Educate customers on best practices to keep smart devices secure.
- Supply agents with the necessary tools to provide effective smart home support.
- Provide a single app for managing customers’ smart devices.
More contact centers will adopt hybrid work models
The simple truth is that the five-day office week is dead. Implementing a hybrid customer service strategy will be vital in hiring and retaining contact center agents.
83% of employees want a hybrid work arrangement. And companies that fail to adapt will hemorrhage staff. And since replacing an employee costs up to twice their annual salary, that can get expensive fast.
Hybrid work helps businesses and employees get the best of both worlds. So it’s no surprise that nearly ¾ of companies plan to adopt hybrid work models. Research shows that employees with hybrid work arrangements are more productive than their fully in-office counterparts. And the National Bureau of Economic Research found hybrid work reduces employee turnover by a third.
In turn, hybrid work arrangements provide companies with significant cost savings. Businesses don’t need to use as much office space as those with fully in-office staff. Additionally, research has found that companies can save as much as $11,000 per employee when they adopt a hybrid work model.
AI and humans will work side-by-side to serve customers
There’s been a lot of buzz around AI the past year. In particular, there have been a lot of news headlines focusing on how AI will put people out of jobs, especially those working in customer service.
However, the research shows that AI in customer service can’t replace humans. While there’s no doubt that the use of AI in customer service will continue to grow, it’ll be used to augment human contact center agent performance, not replace them.
That’s because, according to the 2023 National Customer Rage survey, the number one thing your customers want is to speak to a human. Research by HubSpot also found that more than 70% of customers stay loyal to brands because of friendly, human customer service agents.
All of this research means that your contact center agents have a vital role in customer retention and satisfaction. However, AI can help them do their jobs better. For example, AI can handle simple FAQs, allowing contact center agents to work on more complex tech support tasks.
AI can also be an effective training tool. Businesses can use AI to increase the performance of new or under-performing agents. One study found that AI increased the productivity of contact center agents by 14%. So while AI won’t replace the need for humans in your contact center, it will become another tool to help agents provide better customer service.
Start preparing for 2024 now
Even though we’re in the middle of Q4, the time to start preparing for next year is now. By focusing on key trends in customer service, you can shift your strategy to prepare your contact center for 2024 and stay ahead of your competitors.
Are you looking for ways to stand out in increasingly competitive broadband or telecom markets? As a leader in omnichannel tech support, Ozmo has helped companies like Verizon, TELUS and Google Fi provide the exceptional customer experience their customers crave. Join the future of tech support today!