It’s news to no one that the past few years have been tough. Having only just found some stability post-pandemic, companies are now thrust into a new economic crisis. In times like these, customer service teams are often pressured to cut costs — at all costs. While we don’t expect that to change entirely, we are seeing a shift in this narrative. While there may still be some pressure to cut costs, we are seeing a greater appreciation for the role that customer service plays in building customer loyalty. Companies will not be trading long-term customer experience (CX) for short-term cost gains — at last. For customer service leaders, the next year will be an opportunity to prove their CX relevance, reframe their omnichannel delivery for a new era, and experiment with generation-defining AI.
Here are the three major trends that customer service leaders should watch for in 2023.
1. Customer Service Finally Earning A Seat At The CX Table
Smart brands will work with their customer service teams to preserve the value that they provide, resisting the misguided urge to slash costs at the expense of good CX. This doesn’t have to mean sacrificing profits — companies will innovate to find strategies that combine cost savings with customer-centric solutions. The most forward-thinking brands will look to forge cross-departmental alliances to gain a richer, data-driven perspective of their customers and eliminate avoidable demand.
2. A Resolution-Centered Omnichannel Transformation
Brands that add channel after channel without focusing on resolution are just creating more roadblocks for customers, who will inevitably get frustrated at being passed from chatbot to agent to yet another agent — oftentimes having to provide the same context multiple times. This year, expect a more fine-tuned approach to channel mixing that focuses on in-channel resolution. Customer service will also expand its definition beyond the traditional personas, incorporating field service, in-store representatives, and any other employee who can participate in delivering seamless, resolution-centered customer service.
3. AI Deployments That Balance Risks And Rewards
With the recent hype around generative AI, many brands will work to find a way to incorporate these capabilities into their roadmaps. Consumer-facing use cases are not (yet) ready for prime time, but we expect some customer service teams to pour significant resources into generative chatbots that (at least currently) pose more risks than benefits in the form of unpredictable answers and inherited bias. More levelheaded brands will focus on augmenting their people to enhance service delivery. We’ve seen some contact centers deploy augmented quality monitoring solutions to save human time spent scoring calls; others are redirecting the generative AI hype in a more practical direction by investing in generative after-call summaries for agents. Finally, teams that successfully integrate AI into their customer service arsenal will also use it to invest in knowledge management, consolidating their multiple siloed chatbots into a single comprehensive knowledge base for customer support channels, both human and automated.
For a deeper dive into 2023’s customer service trends, read our latest report.
(written with Research Associate Eleanor Theriault)