Billboard_announcement-greenCustomer experience expert Judy Philbin recently identified three critical trends that are shaping the nature of customer service in 2015. Superior customer service helps organizations achieve higher revenues and improve brand status. It is especially important for field organizations, such as beverage or food businesses, that experience intense competition. Check out these three service trends to help your organization gain a competitive edge and encourage customer retention.

1. Gamification Training

“Gamification” is simply a term for a type of customer service training that is gaining popularity in particular organizations, such as those who train sales reps. It uses the components of a game, such as points, rewards, and team activities, to encourage more engagement in the service training process. For field service organizations who often have existing reps, rather than managers, train new reps, it is important to explain how the training process will work to all parties before beginning. For example, a manager training two new reps could have each pair up with a veteran rep and see which “team” performs better. While gamification is a great way to get reps excited about training, it is important to define the expected outcomes of the training before it begins, whether that be number of client visits, quality rankings of each visit, etc. Additionally, the rewards for the better team, such as a small gift card or recognition on an office dashboard, need to consistent with what the program laid out in the beginning.

2. Social Media Service

Another trend that Philbin has recently written about regards the increasing amount of customer service interactions happening on social media. She noted that not only are customers expecting to see businesses have social media profiles, but they are expecting to receive service through this channel of communication. In fact a J.D. Power and Associates study found that 67% of customers visit a business’s social media sites expecting service, while only 33% visit them with the intent of social marketing. Philbin did offer a few cautionary tips about using social media for business. She said that if a business is going to have social media sites, it should be prepared for customers to use it solely for service purposes. Additionally, she said that if a customer requests service on a social media site, it is best to address them through that channel, rather than pushing them towards an 800 number or email. That way, that particular customer is not inconvenienced and you can demonstrate your service abilities to others visiting your sites.

3. Mobile Service Options

In her recent posts on customer service trends, Philbin also mentioned the growing expectation that business reps see the entire customer history before providing service. This is especially true for B2B businesses, whose reps act as account managers. That means the rep should understand how long this customer has been with the business, their past activities, and any comments other reps have left about the customer in the past. Managers can provide their reps with this information using solutions like Field Activity Management software that is able to track detailed client histories. That way, reps will intimately understand the customer’s needs and wants before addressing their current service need.

Through the use of innovative training strategies like gamification, social media communication, and prepared customer knowledge, your reps will be ready to provide superior customer service this year and into the future.