RESOLVE 18: 10 Big Ideas about the Past, Present, and Future of Customer Service

By Tracy Oppenheimer

It’s no secret that the customer service industry is evolving—quickly—and that brands are having to think really big, and really far ahead, to keep up.

That was the core objective of Helpshift RESOLVE 18—to empower brands with insights, new technology, and actionable next steps for leveling up their customer service strategies. Following robust discussions with leaders from Comcast Xfinity Home, Caviar (a Square Company), Spoke, Next Games, Chatbooks, and Vivino—RESOLVE 18 attendees walked away with an entirely new perspective and accompanying excitement about the customer service world today. These 10 themes were prevalent throughout the conference, and should be important considerations for brands looking to successfully wield customer service as a competitive advantage.

1. There’s a Difference between Communication and Conversation

Human beings are conversational at our core, and keeping customer service conversational should be an absolute priority. Support that is based off of strict call scripts isn’t hitting the mark because human-powered conversations need to be thoughtful and unpredictable—attributes that are not attainable by humans who are acting as robots (call center agents). The lesson here is to use robots for robotic interactions, and reserve human agents for cases that require human levels of empathy and comprehension.

2. It’s Not Just Millennials that Demand Modern Support

Yes, millennials are labeled as the generation with on-demand expectations. But everybody wants easy, convenient, and quick ways to take care of problems they may be experiencing. So providing a seamless experience that respects the consumer’s time is paramount across generations…and it’s not just about providing many options, but providing the right options.

3. We’ve Entered the Era of Common Sense Customer Service

The cost-benefit equation has never been better, now thanks to new technologies that improve the end-user experience as well as the employee experience—alongside lower costs. Consumers can benefit from convenient and quick service, agents benefit from more engaging work, and new AI technologies allow for unprecedented levels of operational efficiency.

4. AI is Now Democratized (and Actually Attainable)  

Brands no longer need to hire external contractors, developers or data scientists to benefit from today’s artificial intelligence. Existing team administrators and supervisors are now able to autonomously use AI and bots. It’s not as simple as ‘point and click’ though—they still do need to clean up their existing data and build out the chat experience—but with Helpshift’s turnkey AI and bot options, they are able to do so with minimal time and resources. The other side to this is that incorporating AI doesn’t need require a complete structural overhaul. There are incremental steps for starting out with AI and bots that can be tested and iterated upon over time. It’s doesn’t need to be a huge leap or commitment, but rather a gradual process that can deliver a clear ROI.

5. It’s Time to Start Thinking about “In-Channel”

Regardless of whether customers are interacting with a brand via a mobile app, mobile site, or website, it’s important to provide easy support access from the channel that they are using. That’s one of the reasons why bots are now becoming so important— they are entirely replacing web-based forms and cumbersome email threads that require customers to leave the channel that they are using. Bots are conversational and can collect the same information that a form can, without the added inconvenience to the customer.

6. Think of Support as a Function of Marketing

In fact, some companies have their support teams report directly into marketing! Having exceptional customer service—and accompanying positive reviews and word of mouth—is some of the most powerful marketing available today. Additionally, feedback driven by support should be communicated to marketing and sales (in addition to product, of course) for brands to truly understand their user base.

7. Asynchronous and Synchronous Can Be Two Sides of the Same Coin

Ultimately, support should be provided when the customer wants it. Just like conversations with friends, customers might start a conversation with support and want an immediate response that they in turn immediately respond to. Yet they then might leave that same conversation and want to return to it hours or days later for follow-up. Having live chat options combined with an ongoing continuous experience allows the customer to get support when they want it, and agents to resolve the ticket as efficiently as possible. Neither side should ever have to “start over” again.  

8. Calling can (and maybe should always be) an Outbound-Only Channel

What’s the best way to avoid your customers having to wait “on-hold”? By not having them call in the first place. When interactions begin over messaging, but still require escalation and a call-based conversation, agents can place the call so the customer never has to wait. There are bot flows that can also be used to identify customer need and availability, and then an agent can take the final steps towards resolving the issue over the phone.

9. Automation let’s you Scale while Staying Personalized

When brands grow, they might want to grow their support team. But this isn’t always necessary. Hiring additional off-shore or third party agents might not be the right solution, now thanks to AI and automation. By automating the everyday and common functions of a support interaction, agents can be reserved for high-touch and strategic tasks. Brands that use AI correctly can find that perfect balance between human-driven empathy and automation in customer interactions.

10. Support isn’t just a Cost Center:  It’s a Revenue Center

Being able to help customers the moment they need support, and providing a positive experience, encourages customers to complete their purchases and continue to engage with the brand. This is a huge source of revenue generation, and should be viewed as such. Bots, for example, can be used for education and even upselling, right within the support interaction.

We’ll be releasing additional content from RESOLVE 18 over the coming weeks, but in the mean time, you can learn more about Helpshift’s new AI-powered platform capabilities here

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