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Trends that Disrupted Customer Service in 2018

Keeping up with trends that revolutionized the customer service industry

The customer service industry is experiencing the biggest digital shift ever - with industry leaders and pioneers scrambling to adopt automation, leverage analytics, expand channels, and integrate front office operations with back-office processes.

Keeping track of industry trends ensures that your customer service strategy is on par with customers’ current expectations. That being said, we’ll now take a look at the biggest trends in customer service this year.

The ai revolution

AI is revolutionizing industries across the globe, and customer service is no exception. Owing to advancements in AI and machine learning capabilities coupled with the rise of digital channels, customer service departments are able to predict (to a high degree of accuracy) the right answer to customer inquiries, especially those made over digital channels.

This increases the efficiency and effectiveness of customer service agents since they no longer had to spend time categorizing conversations, tagging, spell checking, or looking for answers. They only had to approve or personalize the predicted responses generated by the AI-based customer care solutions. Leveraging such solutions enable organizations to combine the efficiency, accuracy and fact-based nature of bots with the empathy and personal touch of human agents.

AI-based solutions can also automate the tagging and categorization of posts as well as handle other operational repetitive tasks, leaving agents more time to focus on delivering empathy and a personalized touch to customers. In previous years, a major barrier to implementing AI solutions was its prohibitive costs; however, with AI solutions achieving maturity, the cost of entry especially for small to medium-sized businesses has become much lower.

Smartphone video camera support

Combined with voice support/messaging, smartphone video camera support has helped accelerate time-to-resolution of service requests. In previous years, customers struggled to explain technical issues to agents over the phone. With more organizations leveraging smartphone video camera support in 2018, this is no longer an issue. Texting customers a link to their smartphones enables brands to activate the device’s video camera so that they can see what the customer is looking at.

This enables businesses to communicate more effectively with end users and gain better insight and understanding into product issues. Leveraging this trend ensures improved CSAT, lower product return rates, better AHT (average handling time), and cost-containment. For customers who are uncomfortable with this functionality, sending pictures via SMS is a viable alternative.

Increased investment in advanced analytics tools



Gartner’s 100 Data and Analytics Predictions report predicted that in 2018, over 50 percent of service agent interactions will be influenced by real-time analytics. Advanced analytics can help organizations gain an edge over competitors by uncovering insights that are critical to both business processes and customer service interactions.

As customer service becomes more focused on personalization, organizations have increased investment in sophisticated data analytics tools. These tools analyze customers’ history and other relevant data to generate recommendations or make accurate or near-accurate predictions on their service expectations. This gives customer service bots and agents more context and background on individual customer needs, helping them to quickly proffer more relevant solutions.

Digital channels overtake voice

In 2018, digital channels, such as messaging, text, social, chat, and email, finally overtook voice in customer service operations. Statistics from Dimension Data’s Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report show that 42 percent of customer service interactions occurred on digital channels in 2017. This means that mobile-driven interaction management - social, SMS, chat, and in-app messaging - have now become core components of organizations’ omnichannel strategy.

According to Twilio, over 89 percent of consumers will like to use messaging as the preferred channel for communicating with business. This is attributed to the multiple benefits that come with using messaging channels - accessible from nearly all digital devices, ability to instantly send files such as videos, photos, and documents, and the ability to start, stop and continue conversations at will.

The strategic use of chatbots

Although chatbots were predicted to be a gamechanger in the customer service industry - massively disrupting the way customer service interactions were handled - they fell far below expectations. Early last year, Facebook had to refocus its AI capabilities after its bots hit a 70 percent failure rate. However, the high failure rate of chatbots was attributed to a lack of a clearly defined purpose and in-house expertise to properly train and optimize machine learning models that could handle natural language processing.

2018 witnessed the resurgence of chatbots with most organizations implementing a more strategic approach to its use. This approach leans on intelligent automation to deliver optimized customer experience by intelligently involving human agent at key points. Effectively deploying chatbots can free up human resources within customer service departments for more complex and emotional decision making.

Increased hire of data scientists and analysts



Organizations are now investing in speech and text analytics and focusing their HR budgets on hiring more data scientists and analysts. This is because customer service departments receive/generate a lot of unstructured data from various channels including text transcripts, social transcripts, chat transcripts, phone calls, etc.

Making sense of this data requires the expertise of data scientists and analytics tools to gain insights into what customers are requesting, questioning, saying, complimenting, or complaining about. With an increasing number of customer service conversations made via digital channels, organizations should hire data professionals to help them remain competitive in an ever-changing consumer-focused business landscape.

The increasing use of emojis

Since their inception, emojis have been making digital conversations more expressive and emotional. With digital conversations overtaking voice in 2018, the human touch is becoming more absent in customer service interactions. As such, organizations had to find new ways to measure customer sentiment and engagement. Making their entrance into the customer service communication mainstream in 2017, emojis have become a major means of showing/sharing humor, happiness, and the human touch with customers.

Alternatively, organizations could embed text analytics within their digital channels to measure the emotional levels of customers. As agents/bots interact with customers, these text analytics tools run behind the scenes, enabling the detection of sentiment levels of customers. Once a high negative sentiment score is detected, the conversation could be escalated from bots to a human agent, or from agents to supervisors.


2018 saw an upsurge in the number of disruptor technologies such as bot tools, digital self-service, AI-based solutions, as well as the hiring of data scientists to improve business intelligence. With the right engagement strategy and delivery methods, these digital capabilities have the potential to completely transform your organization’s customer service operations and ensure the highest levels of customer experience and satisfaction.



Eivind Jonassen

Eivind is the co-founder and CEO of Omnicus. He is building Omnicus to help businesses optimize and streamline contact center operations through automation, and smart routing across messaging, voice & video.