Customer care is getting more personal but the leading trends emerging in 2016 indicate that smart machines may be key in driving the pursuit of individualized service.

Customer care – from the traditional call center to webchat to social media options – is being transformed almost daily by smarter technology. From an influx of connected devices to improved use of analytics, the consumer’s expectations of how, when and where they receive service from their preferred brands – from smartphone providers to airlines – is shifting.  

These trends emerged in part from Xerox’s (NYSE: XRX) recent report on The State of Customer Service, a survey of over 6,000 consumers that found customer care interactions are growing increasingly important to customers, yet there is underlying dissatisfaction across sectors, locations and ages. While the trends are expected to make their appearance in 2016, they’re expected to continue for the next decade.

“It’s clear that the relationships between consumers and brands will change radically over the next five years,” said Tim Joyce, chief innovation officer, Xerox Customer Care. “Customers expect a high quality of service and technology is maturing to the point where brands can efficiently meet those needs.”

  1. Social media support steps up
    Today, consumers have low expectations that they can have their problems solved by contacting their preferred brand via social media. In fact, less than 5 percent of support interactions across technology, telecommunications and media sector were conducted on via social channels – a number that indicates consumers don’t actually recognize their engagement with brands on social media as support interactions.

    But social networks including Facebook and Twitter are working to make their platforms more useful for customer service purposes. Brands that embrace social customer care will see a positive impact on their overall brand satisfaction and improving their customers’ experience.
  2. The Internet of Things enables ‘machine-to-machine’ customer care
    Consumers will soon be surrounded by connected devices that collect data, process the information and eventually analyze the knowledge. This transformation will make ‘machine-to-machine’ care a reality where customers don’t need to initiate their own service or upgrade. Instead, tools like Xerox’s own Virtual Agent within connected devices will hold conversations with each other, working to seamlessly correct issues – perhaps before they even become apparent to the customer.

    Wearable devices that will be connected to other machines will be important to the growth of this service. While only 6.3 percent of those surveyed by Xerox currently own a wearable device, the category is poised for accelerated adoption.
  1. Brands become omni-present
    Omni-presence is a distant, more refined cousin of omni-channel. It is an admission that brands cannot be effective on every single channel, but can use advanced analytics to ensure presence in the places most aligned with their customers’ preferences.

    The Xerox survey found brands will need to partner with service providers that have experience in a variety of channels and an underlying knowledge management technology that connects the dots, making each support interaction a part of the same, coherent conversation.
  2. Customer care agent becomes a career
    The call center will change dramatically over the next decade due to the growth and adoption of automation. This shift will relieve professionally-trained agents of the transactional, repetitive interactions that dominate today’s call centers and allow them to become more emotionally invested in fewer customers who need the most support. With automated options addressing routine transactions, the customer care professional can focus on callers who require the judgment and empathy only an agent can provide.

    Consumers are already comfortable with this shift. In fact, 41.6 percent of those surveyed predict that by 2025, there will be no need to contact a call center.

Tweet: .@Xerox explores the changing nature of #customercare from #callcenters to learning machines.

About Xerox
Xerox is helping change the way the world works. By applying our expertise in imaging, business process, analytics, automation and user-centric insights, we engineer the flow of work to provide greater productivity, efficiency and personalization. We conduct business in 180 countries, and our more than 140,000 employees create meaningful innovations and provide business process services, printing equipment, software and solutions that make a real difference for our clients – and their customers. On January 29, 2016, Xerox announced that it plans to separate into two independent, publicly-traded companies: a business process outsourcing company and a document technology company. Xerox expects to complete the separation by year-end 2016.