Forrester’s customer service trends for 2018

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Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are some of the biggest buzzwords in recent years. By 2021, Gartner predicts that CRM will be the single largest revenue area of spending in enterprise software. And with good reason. If you plan your business to last, you had better make a viable, long-term business strategy.

Research has found that it is easier (and smarter) to invest into customer retention than new client acquisition, so in order not to memorize all the unnecessary data (who would have such big of a brain anyway?), your company needs a solid CRM. Such software tools are great for integration of different modes of communication and creation of welcoming or follow-up emails to check the status of your current communication. With a slight dash of reporting and seeing what worked (or not), your dealership can optimize its sales funnel within months.

Therefore, it would be smart to invest into customer retention, which is why we reflect upon Forrester’s predictions about customer service. Year after year, Kate Leggett analyzes how to make your customer service better and your operations more efficient. In her most recent report, she sees three broad trends your dealership should consider to fundamentally transform operations:


 

#1 Customers demand fast service anywhere, anytime.

With more choice upon shoppers’ hands and a plethora of products to buy, purchasing decisions are influenced by more information coming from the different streams and channels. In the age of big data and time-saving apps, people seem to lack the very essence they are trying to recover: time. Patience comes hand in hand with it, so your customers now demand from you to solve their issues as priorities.

Thus, Leggett predicts “that companies will explore chatbots and voice user interfaces to enhance the self-service experience, as well as investigate visual engagement technologies to cut through the conversational clutter and preserve a customer’s time.”

Key takeaway: Delve into CRMs which integrate texting apps and chatbots to help your car dealership customers solve their issues within moments upon receiving an SMS. Save time and money, and avoid unnecessary paperwork or administrative costs and have all your conversations stored on a cloud computer.


 

#2 Automation and AI quells headcount increases.

The proliferation of interactions across a swelling number of channels has forced customer service teams to enlarge their lineup despite the immense costs they bring (the numbers show projections of a 5-10% growth in the coming year).

Kate Leggett finds this approach economically unsustainable and predicts that “[e]nterprises must re-imagine their operations, with automation and AI at the center of their strategy: for example automated answers, automated conversations, automated agent guidance and RPA, optimized routing, scheduling, case classification. They must also invest in intelligence to ensure AI fueled technologies evolve and learn from prior interactions over time.”

Key takeaway: Instead of increasing the number of employees and draining your customer service budget for the years to come, try finding a sustainable solution that will help you reduce sending generic answers with the help of software that works on the principle of keyword finding. Optimize your funnel, schedule and classify, and embrace the help of new technologies such as artificial intelligence.


 

#3 Customer service operations must look to become more human.

As the number of customers who use self-service for easy and repetitive interactions grows, the need for human agents performing such actions will decrease. Automation and AI will save the day, however, in specific cases and with more complex problems, a slight personal touch of a being who is able to empathize and show the customer that he or she is there for them is another area for improvement in enterprises. Critical customer interactions will, thus, become ‘high-touch centers’, thus absorbing the need for Tier 1 agents.

Leggett believes that such “organizations will focus on the quality of interactions as measured by customer retention and lifetime value. Agents will need to be more highly skilled and better compensated. Old management principles that focused on efficiency must be relaxed. Ultimately, technologies such as quality monitoring should be replaced by customer feedback.”

Key takeaway: Giving diagnosis for solving composite issues will be achieved through human interactions with agents, who need to be extremely competent and adequately remunerated. Dealerships must, therefore, focus on customer retention and quality monitoring, i.e. things that work and avoid channels that do not.

At this turning point, your dealership operations sector must be awarded efficient tools and gadgets which send out automatic notifications or perform easy tasks instead of your employees. Only by doing so, can your business progress.


You can read the full and original report on Forrester blog, from February 2018.


 

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Ryan Williams is the products and operations manager at AdvantageTec. He graduated from Dominican University of California’s Barowsky School of Business with a BA in marketing in 2013. While attending Dominican, he played goalie for the NCAA DII lacrosse team.

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