Five Trends Shaping Customer Support

By 2020, 20.8 billion connected devices will be in use, according to Gartner. Of those devices, consumer uses will account for an astounding 65 percent. As end users become increasingly accustomed to connected systems and rapidly advancing customer support experiences in their personal lives, consumerization of B2B support is essential for attracting and retaining those same customers in their professional lives.

This challenge is compounded by market forces and economic conditions that are forcing companies to focus more on cutting costs and less on customer satisfaction, placing extreme pressure on companies that drive growth primarily through exceptional customer experience.

To adapt to customer influence and its role in the evolving B2B ecosystem while staying ahead of the cost-cutting curve, business leaders must be mindful of the top five trends that are driving support changes. These trends will be the key differentiators between success and failure as new systems take hold.

1. Evolving Customer Channel Preferences

As customers have higher expectations of the products and services they use at home, they're beginning to set the same expectations for the products and services they use professionally and are measuring the degree to which those expectations are met on a multitude of preferred channels. To address these growing expectations, businesses must understand how channel preferences have evolved with the rise of mobile capabilities. According to the 2017 TSIA Social Support Survey, 89 percent of customers turn to Google to search for self-service tips. If Google doesn't provide an immediate solution, customers turn to online community forums or support platforms that allow for problem resolution on their own terms (time, place, convenience). A testament to customer's need for flexibility, spontaneity, and independence, offering direct contact and assistance across multiple channels, will significantly increase user experience and positive feedback.

2. Emphasis on Self-Service

In the world of support, customer needs and wants are evolving by the day, and support teams are challenged to keep up. To adapt to the changing times, businesses will need to place emphasis on self-service capabilities and offerings. Customers like to feel as though they have control over the support conversation, and if they can't find a solution on their own, businesses that offer seamless transitions from unassisted to assisted support and self-service alternatives will experience more opportunities for boosting success, growth, and customer experience.

3. Increased Mobility

According to Ericsson's 2016 Mobility Report, by 2021 there will be 9 billion mobile subscriptions, 7.7 billion mobile broadband subscriptions, and 6.3 billion smartphone subscriptions. Coupled with the rise of 5G, mobile access is set to skyrocket in the coming years. For businesses, the first step in keeping up with the proliferation of all things wireless is to develop responsive designs, such as mobile apps, that enable customers' on-the-go mentality. Businesses will also need to invest in support technology that enables mobile and omnichannel support so they can service customers wherever they are, whenever they need.

4. Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies impact businesses in all sectors and industries both in B2C and B2B every day and are making huge waves in the customer support landscape. It is crucial for businesses to be mindful of those technologies with the potential to alter the ways in which their customers live and work and to address these changes in product updates and future designs. New technologies will only increase customers' need for seamless and expedient support experiences, enabling growth in customer satisfaction by ensuring that technical support products work synonymously with these disruptive new technologies.

5. Remote Workers

On average, 10 percent to 13 percent of support technicians work remotely. While a fairly small percentage, rising overhead costs and other economic conditions are forcing this number to steadily increase. To address rising issues, businesses have started dedicating more time to cost-cutting than customer service and support, which presents a serious problem for companies that find a majority of their success through positive user experiences. To continue driving customer satisfaction, businesses must deliver effective and efficient remote support. By employing tools that allow for knowledge sharing and seamless connection between support teams and customers, businesses will be able to mitigate rising costs while at the same time cultivating positive feedback and reputation.

As mobile capabilities and wireless ecosystems continue to grow and present new opportunities for the technological future, customer-centric businesses more so than ever before will need to consider the impact that these changes have on annual growth and day-to-day operations. By better understanding evolving customer perspectives and staying abreast of emerging technology, businesses will not only be able to address upcoming changes, they will be able to benefit from them for increased success and reputability.

Peter Zeinoun is director of products at LogMeIn. He is focused on LogMeIn's Customer Engagement and Support business unit. He is responsible for shaping the vision, product strategy, messaging, and overall direction of the Rescue brand, which focuses on providing technicians with a cloud-based application for customer service and remote support. Prior to LogMeIn, he managed and designed enterprise level e-discovery products for Recommind.