UK: 6 Digital Trends Impacting Customer Service

Last Updated: 19 February 2013
Article by Ben Morgan

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

As part of our Customer Service Leaders Forum, we take a topic, get a bunch of Customer Service Leaders together and discuss. The last two topics have been " Embedding customer-centricity in your organisation's DNA" and most recently " Customer service in a digital age". Both forums were carried out against the backdrop of the 2012 Olympics Games which was the first Games held in a true digital era.

Post Olympic analysis showed some amazing stats: 431m website visits, 150m Twitter mentions and 15m app downloads. This type of shift in consumer behaviour is a great example of how in today's digital world, customer expectations and the rules of customer engagement are changing. To acquire and retain customers successfully, organisations must recognise these new dynamics and adapt to become more flexible and responsive. The consequence of not keeping up can be devastating to your bottom line. Customers, who have less loyalty than ever, chop-and-change between new innovations that drive real benefits to their everyday lives. In a service context this typically means simplifying and reducing the amount of effort required to complete a customer need.

However, commercial realities cut across this sentiment and developing the right customer proposition and business model that delivers real benefit to the customer in a commercial viable way is no easy feat. To help, we have identified a number of aspects we are seeing having a major impact on both consumer expectations and what businesses are doing about it:

Mobile first: customers are now spending a significant amount of time online via smart mobile devices – and they expect businesses to interact with them over these touch-points. Customer service leaders need to invest and innovate within this channel to meet growing expectations of instant accessibility and contact. The need to be reachable anytime, from anywhere will continue to grow.

Omni-channel is here: as the numbers of customer touch-points continue to grow, so does the importance of managing each interaction consistently, as part of end-to-end customer journeys. Rather than treating each interaction as an isolated contact, they should be designed with the focus on building context. Bringing together existing information about the customer and their interaction history can help to determine the context at every customer touch-point.

Social grows up: the reach and influence that social media has on consumers' day-to-day lives and the reputation of brands is astonishing. For service organisations it is impossible to ignore. Many service organisations see social needing its own dedicated function to deal with the perceived complexities and risks. However, it is essential that the social channel is integrated with the existing service offering and approached as a different skill or contact type, rather than as a channel.

User experience brings art and science to service: over the past decade, we have often seen digital technologies bolted on to existing operations, achieving only a fraction of their potential due to a lack of usability and design. As digital touch-points increase their influence on how customer service is delivered, they demand greater attention. It's now critical to make sure this capability is enhanced and embedded within business teams and many service organisations have or are planning to invest in an enhanced user experience capability.

User adoption – the missing link: adoption is a challenge faced by many service organisations, under constant pressure to maximise operational benefits and cost savings. It's important to remember that building digital services doesn't mean customers will automatically use them. The key is to build services that add value and then market them appropriately, while continuing to look at new ways to improve adoption long after the initial implementation.

Analytics: removing the guess work in this always-on, tech-savvy and social world, customers come armed with an internet full of information. Their attitudes and behaviours change continuously. As a result, most companies are facing significant customer service challenges because they do not know and are not able to predict what will happen next or respond to real-time complaints or feedback. Only organisations that do customer analytics well are able to exploit all channels and data sources, so as to make better-informed decisions about the service they provide.

To read more about these things and for some ideas on how to embrace, innovate and respond check out our latest thought piece developed specifically for our Customer Service Leader Forum.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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