Five Customer-Focused Trends for Companies in 2016
Customers know what they want. They know when they want it – now – and they know how they want it – as close to free as possible. Most importantly, however, they want the overall experience to be as simple and intuitive as current technology will allow. Or, they’ll buy from someone else. In fact, eighty-nine percent of companies expect customer experience to be the most important factor as they compete for business in 2016, according to research firm Gartner.
As your business ramps up this year, keep these ideas in mind to heighten the experience of your customers, so you stay one step ahead of your competitors:
Asynchronous In-App Messaging
The digital-first, technologically-immersed customer isn’t used to waiting and is used to having everything they need at their fingertips. Offer your customers the opportunity to engage with your business via text. The Contact Center Satisfaction Index study found that text was the highest rated contact method for customer satisfaction out of all the other customer communication channels. Facebook has recently introduced Facebook for Business, which allows for messages sent back and forth on a SMS simulated platform, also known as asynchronous messaging. Messages are sent through and held in a message queue and are available whenever the receiver is ready to open it – think text messages and emails (asynchronous) versus live chat and phone calls (synchronous). Asynchronous in-app messaging provides immediate access to a business and allows consumers to communicate where and when it is convenient for them. Customers are so used to texting in their everyday lives that an in-app, SMS-simulated messaging platform is exactly what speaks their language.
Smart Machines and Automation
Autonomous vehicles are smart machines that are all over the news right now because they promise greater efficiency while cutting costs. These vehicles are becoming a reality because computers can now do more than just ingest data; they’re analyzing and interpreting faster and more accurately than humans. IBM's Watson, Google Now and Apple's Siri are all examples of smart machine technology. For businesses, smart machines can extend the traditional customer service team and even connect directly with customers to provide a better and quicker service overall. For example, Amazon just turned up its Dash Replenishment Service (DRS) for partners such as Brother International, General Electric and Gmate. Device makers either build a button into the machines to reorder consumables such as water or printer cartridges, or better yet, automatically measure usage and place orders without the customer ever having to do a thing. The workforce is quickly transforming from a "labor-driven, technology-enabled" place to a "digital-driven, human-enabled" force.
The Internet of Things
Cisco estimates the number of connected devices will rise from 15 billion today to 50 billion by the end of the decade. Intel’s estimates are even higher at four times that amount. That’s a lot of devices connected to the Internet. As the Internet of things continues to grow, data is the key to continuing to enhance customer experience. Companies can track their customers’ online and offline behavior to evaluate and improve deliverables as needed. At the same time, customers are becoming used to the quick, smart and easy improvements the data drives. Any product or service that doesn’t meet this expectation is in danger of quickly becoming obsolete.
24/7 Support -- All Devices, All Platforms
With anywhere access to all of this new technology, consumers are used to instant gratification, and they expect an immediate response from companies anytime they have a question or problem. The trending expectation this year is broad, omni-channel customer service through in app messaging, mobile web or social.
Forget Location, Location, Location
In real estate, location is everything. In business, not so much. Thanks to a tipping point in technology, the physical location of a company’s employees is irrelevant to its customers and even sometimes to the success of the business itself. Virtual desktops and mobile computing allow businesses of nearly any size and industry to hire the best possible team to support their clients, regardless of location.
Jaspar Weir is president and co-founder of TaskUs, the market-leading outsourced customer support provider for venture-backed, fast-growing companies. He promotes a unique hands-on approach, helping companies scale while preserving their company culture and brand. More than 10 TaskUs customers have achieved billion-dollar valuations, and the company has supported more than 200 customers since 2008. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.