With customer preferences changing, traditional service models dependent on 9-5 call centers do not work well, as customers feel frustrated for having to wait on hold and explain what they want, sometimes repeating themselves multiple times.

Therefore, we have seen in the past few years the development of contactless customer experiences that are becoming the norm across a wide range of industries, from retail to restaurants to medicine. While this trend expanded in response to the pandemic, we can see many positive outcomes of this with one, in particular, being saving time and effort for customers.

Touchless experiences have become an essential way of doing business. Whether in the physical world or the digital, more and more companies are implementing solutions that don't require any human contact. But to make this work, companies need to make changes in their structure and implement new technologies that can create seamless self-service with customers.

Although there's a lot of excitement about new technologies in this industry with the progress of video, real-time messaging, chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI), there are still challenges, some of them related to change management. Service professionals need to adapt to the new world, learn how to work with new tools and in some cases change their roles. The advantage of this trend is that new and advanced tools can offload the burden of handling repetitive and basic assignments, allowing professionals to focus on more complicated ones that require a higher level of expertise. Companies that will understand how to embrace this change, will be able to create new growth opportunities for their employees, keep them satisfied and improve their engagement. This can be a real asset, especially in times when it is difficult to recruit new employees and avoid high attrition rates.

Another challenge that companies are facing is keeping the right balance between low-touch and high-touch service. The benefits of low-touch service are pretty clear - we see high demand for it from end customers and it can help companies reduce the cost of service. Having said that, there is still a place for white-glove service that requires a personal touch. It can be a great tool for retaining a high-value customer or creating differentiation in the market. The key is to use it only when the potential value justifies the cost and when it is a better alternative to low-touch service.

With the technologies available today, not only can we help customers build self-service, but we can also address the related challenges. With self-learning tools, in-app guidance and Next Best Action, we can help professionals to cope with the learning curve and further develop their careers.

As for the balance between low-touch and high-touch service, the key here is making data-driven decisions. The future is "Real-time data" where businesses will be able to access their customers' data anytime, all the time and use predictive analytics to make smart decisions, streamline processes and forecast customers' needs. It is transforming the customer service of companies by making it more proactive and personalized than ever.

Written by Itai Barak,VP of Product Management at Salesforce Israel

CREDIT: Salesforce