How customer service could change by 2020

30th Nov 2015

In March 2016, the Institute will host its annual conference, which will consider how customer service might look in 2025. It will build on existing research that outlines the strategies companies need to revise to keep up with the pace of change before 2020. 

Intended to stimulate debate about the changing nature of customer service, provide practical help and shape strategies, our current report, The future of customer service, offers a number of pointers for those looking to develop their services. It shows that, while we can’t predict the future, we can use current trends as a starting point and ensure customer service strategies are able to adapt to change.

Today, for example, good service anticipates customer needs and aims to mitigate problems by solving customer queries before they develop into full-blown complaints. The growth of artificial intelligence is already heightening companies’ abilities to anticipate customers’ needs and emotions. Facebook recently announced the development of ‘M’, a messenger-based personal assistant powered by artificial intelligence software that responds to customers’ queries. As technology evolves, this kind of software is likely to become an even greater determinant of the quality of service. 

With this evolution, customers will demand evidence that customer data is managed responsibly. Data management therefore needs to be robust, transparent and trusted. 

The report also predicts that customers will increasingly become a source of collaboration for businesses, while bespoke services and personal interactions will be particularly sought after. Skills such as analysis, problem solving, interpretation and empathy will subsequently become increasingly important, as organisations seek to strengthen their relationships with customers. 

To ready themselves for these changes, companies should invest in customer insight and develop a dynamic skills mix aligned to the needs of their target markets. Businesses also need to involve customers and other stakeholders in the co-creation of services and product design. Above all, agility is key – as next year’s conference will no doubt reinforce. 

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