Customer service has always been key to a business’s reputation, but it’s more important than ever today.

Consumers across the globe have access to a world of options, and if one business fails to satisfy their needs, they can look elsewhere. For example, 78 percent of consumers have abandoned a transaction due to poor service, potentially running away to a competing business.

However, online tools and software are equally advantageous for companies, providing a variety of ways in which to provide outstanding customer support. Each new year brings exciting innovations, so what will be the biggest 5 trends in 2018?

Personalized Responses for Every Customer

Customers who take the time to contact you via Facebook, Twitter, or other networks expect a response, no matter how quick or simple that may be. Every brand will have to be familiar with social media channels and cultivate a satisfied user-base.

If you ignore questions or comments, others will see it. This can create a negative image for your brand, especially if you miss hundreds or thousands of opportunities to interact. As social media continues to become an essential part of everyday life in the coming year, consumers will expect more personalized service from even the biggest brands.

Avoid responding with generic messages or failing to take comments seriously. Customers choose to contact brands over social media because it’s faster and simpler than sending an email, and it’s equally convenient for you.

Face-to-Face Care Tactics

Video is becoming more and more popular as a means of communication. Major platforms like Skype and Google Hangouts are now an everyday tool, and businesses will continue to embrace this for the better.

Emerging high fidelity live streaming technologies provide companies with a more personal quality of service. Using face-to-face video chat, every business can address queries and offer solutions far easier than through more traditional methods (email, phone etc.). For example, a customer looking for help installing a new driver on their computer or, perhaps they need help assembling a new piece of furniture they bought from you, they can receive a visual walkthrough, greatly decreasing their frustration and improving their day.

However, customers will quickly tire of video-based service if the quality is poor. Loss of sound or visual, lagging, or frequent disconnections can be incredibly frustrating – this is especially true if taking calls from international countries where connections may be weaker.

Integrating a proprietary real time live streaming SDK (Software Development Kit), built for reliability, into your businesses app or website is quick and simple, and can revolutionize your customer service.

Self-Educating Tools

More and more businesses will continue to give consumers the resources they need to help themselves. FAQ and troubleshooting sections are found at many commercial websites, but not all of them are comprehensive enough.

These give prospective and existing customers answers to questions without their having to contact a business’s support team directly. Issues as simple as ‘how can I buy products?’ or ‘what delivery options are available?’ can be solved in a matter of seconds if resource pages are organized efficiently.

This prevents consumers needing to spend money dialing a number or taking time to compose an email. FAQ and troubleshooting pages should address every aspect of a business’s operations, from the most basic on. Even if the answer to a question seems obvious to you, look at your services from a customer’s perspective and provide a solution.

Brands can empower customers through self-help resources and leave their support agents free for more genuine emergencies.

Multi-Channel Service

Customer service can no longer be limited to email or phone channels. Social media, live chat, video calls, text messaging, and more should all factor in a business’s support options.

Companies will have to harness the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) to be everywhere at the same time. Customers expect a brand to stay abreast of their queries: if someone contacts you through a face-to-face video call, followed by an email, and then via live chat, they expect you to have their previous information on hand. Having to repeat complaints, questions, or issues again and again is infuriating for consumers, enough to leave them unwilling to buy from your brand again.

Customers have more choice than ever, and no business can afford to become complacent. Companies should make consumers feel as valuable as they are – they will not accept being taken for granted with so many communication channels available.

Rewarding Employees Who Reward Customers

Employees need more incentive to provide exceptional service than a standard paycheck at the end of the month: customers want to deal with staff who are friendly, helpful, and go beyond the call of duty to solve their problem.

Brands should offer employees incentives, to keep up with demand and secure an edge over competitors. Rewards for meeting customer-support targets are becoming continually popular, motivating workers to push themselves and maintain their business’s reputation.

If an employee invests considerable time and effort to help a customer but receives nothing more than the pay they would get for average service, they may feel disheartened and under-motivated.

Businesses will have to embrace a more incentive-based system, offering those employees who give their all a morale-boosting reward.

As technology continues to evolve and innovations develop, businesses will have greater opportunities with which to boost their customer service. Video chat, incentivized employees, multi-channel care, and more can all help to transform a company’s reputation in the coming years.

Have you considered how your business can boost your customer service?