Companies digitization is being confirmed in all industries and customer care is no exception. Companies are adapting their strategies to be available on more channels, increase their reactivity and efficiency in seamless customer care journeys. To do so, they have to take into account the major changes that occured in 2017, many of which will accelerate in the coming months.
1/ Messaging is becoming the new Customer Care norm
In 2018, the trend according to which consumers are progressively getting away from traditional channels such as calls and text messages in favor of messaging will continue.
Companies understood that when consumers change their habits for personal usage, their expectations towards brands are evolving too. To answer it, many of them have already integrated this technology in their customer care strategy and offer to be contacted on messaging channels.
When it comes to messaging, each country has its preferences: in China, WeChat is the most used app with almost 800 million users, while LINE is more popular in Japan, Thaïland and Indonesia. In South Korea, KakaoTalk is the most popular messaging app with 42 million monthly active users. In other countries, Messenger (1.2 billion users worldwide) and WhatsApp (1.3 billion users) are two of the main apps. All of these apps offer similar core features (messages, emojis, file transfer…) but offer specific ones that can explain their popularity in different markets.
Considering its growing importance, 2018 will be the year of messaging for large companies. Those which did not adopt it yet will soon do so to be available where their customers are and keep up with their competitors.
2/ Chatbots and artificial intelligence will keep growing
Like in 2017, chatbots will remain an important component in customer care strategy in 2018. After having aroused high hopes and the fear they will replace humans, companies and users become aware of their limitations and real potential. Able to simplify everyone’s lives, they have proved their ability to qualify enquiries, solve simple issues and collect information. Human agent can thus ensure to save time and have a more complete context to solve problems.
Several large companies have already started to launch their chatbots, but always with an important level of caution. To do so, they dedicate a bot on a channel for a specific issue. In addition to that, their self-learning nature opens future perspectives of improvement. This includes taking into account new issues and cover an extended perimeter as it learns.
But chatbot are always integrated into a process with human: in any case, chatbots connect to a Digital Customer Interactions platform to hand over the conversation to an agent when it cannot answer. This approach has a double advantage: it saves agents time and allow them to dedicate to tasks with more added value.
But the major trend is multichannel chatbot. Companies which have tested their bot on only one channel so far will be able to launch the same chatbot on several channels at once (messaging, chat, app, etc…) to benefit from its knowledge and evolution through all digital customer care channels.
3/ The 360° view will become easier with the CRM and DCIP integration
The third 2018 trend is the CRM/Digital Customer Interactions Platform (DCIP) integration. We are observing a growing interest for a “360° customer view”, allowing to know everything about a customer: his history, journey, past issues, transactions, contact information, etc…
What may seemed impossible in the past (which software could offer such a complete customer view?) is now a reality. The integration between a CRM (which contains all transactional and personal data) and a DCIP (which contains all data related to conversation and virtual identities) provides a perfect customer view and gives to agents a better understanding of his needs.
4/ GAFA will launch new messaging channels
GAFA (Google Apple Facebook Amazon) have announced their objectives and roadmaps which all converge towards a very clear idea: messaging is the future of customer care.
By switching from 140 characters to 280, Twitter gave companies more space to answer their customers. As a customer care pioneer with Messenger since several years, Facebook has announced its ambition for WhatsApp with WhatsApp for Business. Google launched a beta messaging option within Google My Business, allowing to talk with customers via their local page, and plan to revolutionize text messages (born in 1992) with the launch of RCS. This format will offer a messaging experience without the constraint of being linked to a specific provider. In the same time, Amazon is launching Anytime to compete with its peers and Apple plans to develop iMessage for Business in 2018.
Major players of the international market are confirming that messaging will be the (near) future of customer care.
There is no doubt that 2018 will be the year of Digital Customer Care. As statistics show since several years, phone use is decreasing, new generations prefer using new digital channels and all companies are heading towards an omni-channel customer care approach.
Their reflections will be around data management in different customer care channels. Companies will analyse the relevance of launching proprietary channels, via web chat or messaging in their applications.
Cross channel plans will keep on evolving based on customers’ preferences, some changes closely monitored by companies. Some of them will encourage the transition from phone to digital. In this context, voice channels will have to meet the omni-digital challenge. After breaking out with personal assistants, voice channel will be strongly challenged and will have to manage this transition to last and integrate into new customer care processes, in which switching channels seamlessly is a major issue.
Finally, now that chatbots do not inspire fear of massive job loss anymore, their future will depend on their integration into processes putting emotion and humain at the center of interactions.
As many evolutions to follow in 2018, which could become the year for digital maturity of companies.
By Julien Rio, CMO at Dimelo