We looked back with our best posts from the customer support community in 2015, now we’re looking forward with predictions for 2016. We’ve asked support pros from Kayako and beyond what they think the biggest trends in customer support will be in the next 12 months.
We’ve seen some emerging trends appear: customer experience and communication are prominent, as well as getting the best out of your self-service and help centers, and changing customer behaviour and expectations.
We’ll be covering these areas throughout 2016 so be sure to subscribe to our blog newsletter to stay at the top of your support game this year.
Kayako’s customer support predictions for 2016:
Varun Shoor, Founder/CEO
I think 2016 will be the year when customer service finally moves beyond the “desks”. People will realise that the practices and concepts of the last decade simply don’t scale and how broken the current landscape is. Tickets and limitations of channels become history and the world moves beyond the transactional way of interacting with their customers into the new age – where you have a single view of your customer, every interaction and event captured and presented in a way that helps you better understand and serve your customers.
Jamie Edwards, Co-Founder
Businesses are getting better at plugging into different channels and contextualising their support to that channel, especially with the likes of Twitter. However, customers do not see themselves as channel customers. If I start a conversation by Twitter and then follow up on the phone, I don’t expect to have to repeat myself. It isn’t enough to optimise for one particular channel at a time and silo a customer to that channel; a great customer experience needs to be holistic as well as contextual. I think a big theme of 2016 will be unifying customer support channels and evolving the tools, team structures and operating styles needed to achieve that.
Navsher Puar, Support Team Lead
This year the traditional support teams will embrace the elements of how account management is done in a big way. Imagine a customer coming in with a request through any channel, and the handler has data to inform themselves with the history, patterns and all other customer or prospect records when they approach the query. Now, that would be real power for the customer support teams.
Sukhpreet Anand, Technical Support Consultant
Customer expectations are changing; each time you add another channel, you offer another way for a customer to engage with you. Customers expect support to be available 24/7. Not every customer wants to come to you for simple queries, they demand to learn and help themselves, so your self-service is expected to be top notch.
Gary McGrath, Customer Success Consultant
In 2016 we will see the ever increasing dominance of the smartphone. Customers are rapidly changing the way they expect to communicate with you, through phones, live chats, emails, social media and many more. It’s important to ask yourself which of these channels are right for you – the answer is the ones that your customers are using.
Tejaswi Chawla, VP of Sales and Rajiv Sharma, Sales Manager
2016 is an exciting year for support. Social media as a support medium is finally maturing and more customers look to communities for a quick resolution. It’s time to be an active contributor in communities and create strong evangelizers. We are in a socially connected world. It is all the more critical to give quick and excellent customer support. A poor support interaction that’s published does more damage than a hundred good ones can repair. Customers don’t want wow. They want now! A quick resolution is foremost on a customer’s mind.
James Doman-Pipe, Product Marketing Manager
2016 is going to be the year that your customers realize they don’t have to put up with sub-standard customer service, and start to vote: with their wallets! The growth of smartphones, ‘on-demand’ services and rising levels of aptitude with the internet means that your customers aren’t restricted to dealing with businesses from just your city or country – but from almost every country on the planet. We already know just how important customer service is to a customer’s purchase decision, but we’ll start to see a significant increase in the effect of poor customer service on customer disloyalty. What does this mean for you and your business? It’s simple. You need to be continually and relentlessly improving and getting better at the art and science of customer service.
More customer support predictions for 2016:
Steven Van Bellegham, best-selling author of When Digital Becomes Human
The rise of technology has created a greater level of expectations among customers. The bar for customer service and customer experience teams gets higher and higher. The increasing amount of data will increase the expectations even more in the next few years. We are entering a world of automation. Because of the additional data sources, products will ‘come to life’. Products will be able to predict when they will break down. Because of that, they will be able to anticipate to these problems and basically solve them before the customer discovers the issue. This implies that reactive customer service is a disaster; real time customer service is becoming the norm but the future is faster than real time customer service. Customer service teams should get ready for a world of automation.
Bruce Johnson, COO/Co-Founder of fullstory
Consumerization of IT will only accelerate for the foreseeable future. What are the consequences for 2016? As traditional sales-driven “enterprise” software models are disrupted by smaller, more responsive SaaS companies, users of B2B software will react to the difference. They’ll become increasingly impatient with adversarial pricing, dinosaur UX, stupid bugs, and horrible performance. They’ll expect that software is intuitive and self-service. When users do ask for support, they’ll want authenticity and real solutions rather than canned replies. It’s a high bar for companies, but it’s great quality of life for users. And since we all use software in one way or another, it’s ultimately going to be great for everyone.
Ravi Shukle, social media and online customer service expert RaviShukle.com
For customer support in 2016 there is one trend that cannot be ignored and that is live support. In particular the growing use of live streaming and live chats to provide service in real time as customers aren’t willing to wait. When it comes to customer experience since 2015, 51% of the total online market are using their mobiles to access the internet. This growing trend in mobile usage needs to be embraced by all companies when carrying out support in order to see growth in the new year.
Ines Van Essen, WordPress support freelancer and blogger at Tockeroo
My prediction for 2016 is that the demand for skilled support professionals will grow. Developers can’t rely on the laid back, ‘users will figure it out’ way of making products. If you want to grow big, customer support and experience will need to be taken more seriously this year. Work on your knowledge base, improve the tone of voice in your emails. It will make all the difference.
Taco Verdonschot, Community Support Manager at Yoast
Remember the day when you sent your question by mail to a company and were really satisfied if you received an answer within a couple of weeks? Things have changed. Over the last few years we’ve seen real-time feedback become increasingly important, for example live chat support. This year, I expect to see more companies offering real-time support while increasing their ‘opening hours’ for support. By the end of the year, we’ll see multiple large non-tech companies offer 24/7 online support.
Jeanne Bliss, President of customerbliss.com and author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0
In 2016 consumers expectations on companies delivering on their promises will heighten. They will expect a “you know me” experience – where all factions of an organization have their information consistently. They will have less patience in having to remind a company about what they last purchased, or how long they’ve been a customer. And especially will expect all areas of an organization to be united in how they serve them. Social media driven service expectations are no longer a differentiator but a requirement, and customers will choose more deliberately – to walk away from companies who don’t serve them in an agile and responsive manner with all the tools at their disposal.
What predictions do you have for 2016? Share them in the comments and yours might get added to the list!