The fourth industrial revolution that's happening now, where disruptive technology is changing the way we work, is also changing service. With the ever-gaining popularity of tech like artificial intelligence (AI) and the prevalence of connectivity everywhere, the standards for customer service are changing. There are more avenues than ever to connect with a company, with a complementary increase in the amount of background information a service agent is expected to know. These two things in combination mean that simply answering the phone is no longer enough to succeed. Salesforce surveyed 3,500 service employees around the world in the 2019 State of Service report, and the results paint a good picture of what this means for the customer service industry.
Upskilling customer service workers is a priority
Customer service agents have always been front-line employees. In addition to solving one-off problems, teams are now responsible for building relationships and providing a personalized experience each and every time. Already, 71% of agents hold more strategic roles than they did just 2 years ago. While this is good news, without proper training and tools, companies can't expect agents to perform to expectations. Keeping up with changing customer expectations means that ongoing learning and training need to be a part of every service center. A second component of this is making sure that goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) are also being updated to match the new work skills of each team.
Tools need to be upgraded
With the added demands on customer service representatives, it makes sense that reps need the right tools and technology in place to help them do their job effectively. Currently, 56% of agents say they need to switch between multiple screens to have all of the information they need for their day-to-day job. Though seemingly a small thing, this toggling happens so many times each day that it has a large impact on the productivity of an agent. Tools that integrate all relevant information into one screen, like a computer telephony integration (CTI) solution that brings a phone system into the CRM, go a long way to help agents fulfill their duties.
Greater integration of AI is also a service change that can't be ignored. It has a projected growth of 143% over the next year. AI in the form of a chatbot is a great tool for reducing the number of repetitive, simple inquiries that agents need to answer, opening up their time for more complex problems. For service teams that already have AI implemented in their organization, the amount of time spent on complex problems in 14% higher than those without, making work tasks more interesting for their employees. Identifying other problem areas and addressing them is important for bringing service teams up to speed.
Connected service is a requirement
There's no dispute that today's world is far more digital than it once was. With the fourth industrial revolution, the next change is not just having digital channels, but connecting them all so that agents can provide consistent, unified service across different channels and interactions. Today, 70% of consumers expect to see this consistency, though only 16% feel it's something companies achieve. However, improving integration among departments and agents is a top priority for service leaders. The standardization of systems so there's a shared database of knowledge is a big step towards achieving connected service.
Read the full Salesforce State of Service report for more details and statistics.