Last updated: Three hidden trends shaping customer service and field service

Three hidden trends shaping customer service and field service


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We are all very aware of the three acronyms that are having a huge impact in customer service and digital adoption as a whole: AI, IOT, and ML.

Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and machine learning are expected to continue to reshape the way we see business well through 2025. Fueling these core areas of digital adoption are hidden trends gaining momentum and writing your customer service and field service story for 2018.

Investments in advanced data analytics

Data analytics will continue to be the fuel for driving better customer engagement and personalized brand experiences. Customer data now arrives from a variety of sources, such as phone, email, social media, live chat systems, and surveys. Companies will need to optimize every platform, channel and touch point to gather consumer information and create a more complete view of their customers. This will put greater emphasis on delivering centralized dashboards to help businesses determine actionable steps to improve the customer experience.

The mass amount of information being created by IoT calls for the need for advanced data and analytics tools. Information will be coming in at a rapid speed changing the current landscape for data collection and customer insights. Efforts in 2018 to build and perfect machine learning innovations which are completely dependent on data will pressure investments in advanced data analytics tools as businesses look to uncover critical business insights delivered by machines.

In 2018, investments in advanced data analytics will also be driven by a closer alignment between commerce and service interactions. Much of this is contributed to chatbots and the data they can leverage. AI driven chatbots can read messages, study purchasing behavior and browsing history and reply to customer queries while collecting insights into the customer’s purchasing behavior. These insights open the door to personalized recommendations and “conversational commerce” that generate additional revenue and loyalty.

One potential caveat for customer data consolidation is the launch of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which will crack down on data collection techniques. Inevitably we will see businesses taking the necessary efforts to abide by these new guidelines without sacrificing their ability to provide personalized engagement.

Deploying a liquid workforce

A popular term coined by Accenture in 2016, liquid workforce reflects how companies need to harness technology to create a flexible, adaptable, change-ready, and responsive workforces. The core to being liquid is mobility. Mobility has always been a need when it comes to field service technicians. This will continue to expand in 2018 as more customers expect first-time fix rates to be a standard.

Technicians will continue to leverage tablets and smart phones to schedule their day, route to an assignment, pull up customer service level agreements and warranties as well as collaborate to find answers through video chat. In addition, there is a growing need for service managers to expand the flexibility of their call center agents. Remote teams are rising in popularity, causing a need to set up proper technical infrastructures in “home offices” to keep employees connected and engaged.

Wearables such as smart watches and augmented reality glasses will gain deeper adoption in 2018.  Service providers are recognizing the value of hands-free communication for field technicians while on the road, and on the job. Augmented reality glasses will continue to be on the rise although adoption within service providers are slow because of cost of investment. However, new technology improvements for wearables will be recognized this year and promote adoption.

Rise of Hybrid Environments

A hybrid customer service environment finds that balance between man and machine. It leverages the best of AI while still utilizing agent knowledge and preserving customer context. While chatbots and machine learning techniques excel with Tier 1 service engagements by answering those common customer questions, they may not always have the answer to the more complex, situation or customer specific questions. This requires a shift to live agents.

Growing investments in hybrid environments in 2018 will allow bots and algorithms to assist in retrieving initial information quickly and 24/7 but also transition seamlessly to agents where appropriate. This allows for information to be passed to an agent without losing context which will drive higher levels of customer satisfaction.

It is important to recognize that the fuel behind these hybrid environments are not just customer data. In 2018 we’ll see a rise in preserving internal knowledge in service organizations. Loss of talent and knowledge in call centers and field service will be a major challenge in coming years. Investments in digital knowledge management systems that will preserve data from an aging workforce are on the rise and are crucial to excel and innovate in a hybrid environment.

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