What Does the Future of Customer Service Look Like?
It’s a tough question right? As with any unknown, it’s hard to predict and with the advancement of technology, the form of customer service will change to some degree, as well as, how we as consumers, feel about customer service and what it means to us. I can offer this. I am a customer service expert. I’ve worked in the customer service industry for 25 plus years. With this experience and accrued knowledge, I have customer service down to a science. Yes, a science.
I tasted entrepreneurship at a very young age. Growing up, I would help my dad in his shop. It was in these formative years I discovered at a young age, the freedom of what entrepreneurship could bring. I admired my father for taking leaps of faith into the unknown and foraging his own path. Often, he would be scribbling in his note pad and would turn to me and say, “What do you think of this name Josh?” or “How about this idea?”. Involving me in that way was special to me and left a remarkable impression as well as fostering great creativity and wonder. I thought that, with enough resources and brainstorming, I could do anything or create anything I put my mind to.
I also learned the value of customers and what that meant for business. Let’s face it, you can have the best idea or the best product but if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. You see, my dad had a great shop, a great work ethic, superior knowledge in his industry, but he lacked customers. He didn’t know how to attain them or keep them coming back. It just wasn’t his strong suit. So when I say customer service is everything, I mean it. I saw my dad and all his hard work fade away in an empty store.
So before we talk about customer service in the future, let’s talk about customer service today. What do you think? How impressed are you when you go shopping, book a hotel or flight reservation, dine out, or call a service number for questions? In my opinion, companies gave customer service a back seat spot and focused on streamlining, scalability, and bottom lines. This, has made the overall consumer experience lack luster. It’s basic at best a majority of the time, and the few and far between people that we meet as customers who make our experience enjoyable and memorable, are themselves, overworked and underpaid — and they burn out, due to overcompensating their co-workers incompetence. We’ve been trained now to receive mediocre service in the exchange of lower prices or faster check outs. It’s devoid of all humanity. This, unfortunately, is the current state of consumer relations.
Now, that’s not the case for all companies and some companies I would argue have a leg up on their competitors because they value customer service. When we know, as consumers, we are valued, we will remain loyal and dedicated customers, we will share our experience, and we will go out of our way to tip better and leave 5 star reviews. This should be the goal of every business out there because that is the formula for success.
We are researching online now for reviews before we even think of swiping our card. We trust word of mouth and referrals now more then ever. We leverage the experience of others like never before to save us time, energy, and money. This being the case, companies who don’t value their customers and don’t focus on the experience they are offering, are doomed.
As for the future, technology is reshaping the landscape. Blockchain is providing complete transparency. There is no doubt that this technology will be a powerhouse and have a huge hand in turning over power back to the consumer. Also, companies will turn to more advanced technology to supplement human interaction. I say “supplement” because those companies who “replace” human interaction, do so at their own peril. This, along with continued integration of our lives with the online realm and virtual reality is the start of a new frontier, and those willing to adapt while focusing on the unique experience of every customer, will be the leaders.
Joshua S. Kangley