There is no denying it. The impact of customer service on how customers perceive and interact with brands is paramount. In a time when so many companies have similar offerings, customer service has become a way to distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace. With the advent of user-generated ratings and feedback over social media and online, businesses are constantly under the microscope. Customer service can no longer be defined by lengthy waits on the phone. Customers now expect near-instant responses to their needs. The brands that recognize this shift are the ones that will continue to prosper in 2016 and beyond. Here are five predictions that will drive change in the customer service industry for years to come.

1. Seeing is believing

Video chat will play a larger role in customer service, by injecting the “human” element back into technology. Companies like Amazon, American Express, and major players in the car industry have adopted video chat as part of their customer service offering, and are reaping the benefits. The car industry, for example, has found over 30% of live video chat shoppers go on to visit the showroom and conduct a test drive.

2.  Context is king

According to recent reports, people expect you to know something about them when they contact customer service, especially if they are a repeat visitor. Maserati, the renowned luxury car brand, took over 50 attributes of their visitors to create a more personalized customer experience, and was able to increase their average conversion rate by 28.4% and their net-revenue by over 50%. Customer engagement platforms that collect information about a customer will be on the rise. More companies will be on the lookout for technology that is able to integrate and merge information about a customer that will lead to a more customized experience. In addition, consumers will come to expect a higher level of personalization from the brands they interact with on a regular basis.

3. Never leave your apps

More and more customers will demand the ability to access live customer service from directly within an app, rather than having to pick up a phone to call customer service. Companies like T-Mobile use Sparkcentral’s In-app messaging platform to enable its customers to instant message a live agent, without ever leaving the app. If you build it, they will come- We’ve all heard the numbers– according to Gartner, there will be 25 Billion connected things by 2020. This means the number of incoming customer service requests will continue to rise in the coming years. Being able to manage these requests will be just as important as creating new and innovative connected products.

4. If you build it, they will come

We’ve all heard the numbers– according to Gartner, there will be 25 Billion connected things by 2020. This means the number of incoming customer service requests will continue to rise in the coming years. Being able to manage these requests will be just as important as creating new and innovative connected products.

5. Consistency is the key

Creating a unified customer experience, no matter how a customer contacts you will become even more important. Customers will expect the same level of customer service across every social media platform, over the web and even by phone. Having this level of consistency will become imperative in creating a unique customer experience.

Source: http://www.sparkcentral.com/blog/5-predictions-for-the-future-of-customer-service/