As we look forward into the next decade, let's first reflect back to the previous one and the impact it had on customer support. The 2010's was a decade driven by the emergence and evolution of mobile technology, making it easier to communicate than ever before. It also launched "big data" into the mainstream, and support teams had more information about their customers than ever before. We've looked at annual customer support trends in the past, but now it's time to look even further down the road towards the future of customer support.
So what's in store for the next decade? Here are 8 B2B customer support breakthroughs to prepare for in the next decade.
1) Large companies will hire customer support professionals that rarely, if ever, directly interact with customers
From automated chat technology to personalized self-service content and everything in between, we’re entering an era of customer support where “behind the scenes” efforts matter more than ever before. An agent that’s excellent on the phone will always have its place, but more B2B professionals are viewing agents as a last resort for only the most severe problems. The perception is changing for many businesses to the less a customer needs to talk to an actual human to solve their issues, the better.
2) It will be possible for support conversations to be converted to searchable text with minimal effort
Great support conversations happen between a customer and an agent every day. But what happens to all the excellent knowledge the customer shared when the call is over? Most of it isn’t actionable and it doesn’t live on forever, but more businesses want it to stick around and have value. That’s why more companies will invest in real-time speech to text technology and ensure this information never leaves their support software system.
3) Mobile chat and text message support experiences will improve – not out of preference – but because of need
Think back just 10 years ago… was your whole life on your smartphone? Probably not. Sure, you had some photos and emails, but now everything people do revolves around a small device that’s within reach for most of the day. That’s why smartphone users will demand more than ever that the support experience they receive on mobile matches what they’ve come to expect in the office. For example, right now the live chat experience on mobile doesn’t match desktop. More customers will expect to have streamlined chat and text experiences on mobile devices. They don’t want to leave their phone unlocked to keep the chat active or sit around wondering if a text was sent out successfully.
4) Information at the individual level – not just the company level – will help drive customer support decisions
For years, many businesses have only worried “if the customer is happy”. But who is the customer? Is it the company itself, or the decision maker who signed the contract? The two are not always the same, and the B2B support mentality is changing to reflect this distinction. Receiving real-time information about the contacts you support, not the companies, will help drive impactful support conversations. For example, looking at LinkedIn information directly within your support software, an executive with a career background in video technologies would likely want to video chat more that someone working at the same company who worked with server infrastructure.
5) Personal assistant technology can interact with automated support, such as chat bots, to find answers to routine support questions
In the world of Siri and Alexa, these technologies will continue to evolve and become even better for customers. After all, if the technology isn’t valuable, people won’t use it. For example, users can ask their virtual assistant “When does my distributor close”, and if the hours aren’t listed on the site but a chat bot is present, an assistant may ask the bot automatically and provide its answer to the user.
6) B2B support conversations will happen more often where professionals want to communicate
There will still be value in traditional online channels such as self-service, but businesses with dedicated support agents at companies may just opt to add them to their Slack network instead of funneling conversations through a support form on their site. This makes the agent easier to contact and gives a “they’re on our team” vibe with the customer. Leading support software solutions will have Slack integrations in place to share information between the systems and therefore all Slack conversations the agent has is searchable by your greater support team to resolve other issues.
7) B2B support will be less about telling and more about showing through custom, on-demand content
People are watching less live TV, so it only makes sense that we’re also trending towards less “live” support interactions. Instead of typing out a long response, a support expert may record their screen for 5 minutes and narrate how to solve a problem. This video will then be uploaded to a searchable video support portal for the customer – like their own Netflix for working with your business.
8) Machine learning will determine not only who proactive support teams should contact, but when and how
Assuming you have historical customer and data in your support software solution, machine learning can be powerful in driving interactions that matter. For example, let’s say you need to tell a customer about a software bug that affected a key product on their account. Machine learning, with the right data, can tell you when the best day and time is to send the message, who the best person at that company would be to send the message to (based on how they’ve interacted with negative messages in the past), what terminology to use (“bug” or “problem”) so the message lands in the best way, and so much more. Support will never have so much information at their fingertips.
As you can see, there are some exciting new ways for support teams to communicate with and learn more about their customers. We look forward to seeing what the next decade has in store for everyone!