As we look forward, 2019 will be a year of change in the customer service industry. Companies are now focusing more on their relationships with customers than ever before, and it’s safe to assume this focus will become even more prominent in the coming years.

While there are many things to consider in planning your 2019 customer service strategy, below are three areas, in particular, to focus on and plan for:

1) Deflecting tickets will take more priority – Over the past few years, more companies have realized the best way to deal with tickets is to prevent them from being created altogether. This means not only adding self-service content to your website but populating that content across every single customer service touchpoint. This can be as simple as adding a URL shoutout in a phone tree or as complex as generating custom self-service links in a chat window as a customer explains their issue. Sometimes the best conversations are the ones you prevent as it reduces service fatigue among your customers.

2) Customers will expect more from their live chat experience – Speaking of live chat, the demands in this area continue to increase exponentially. Adding images and files to chat was a big deal a few years ago, but now most standard chat solutions offer this, and it’s become expected. Now, customers are looking to push the capabilities of chat even further by utilizing screen sharing and video chat. The benefits of screen sharing allow agents to show customers a solution in real-time or to let customers walk through an issue with an agent watching them. Video chat delves into a similar concept but lets customers and agents show what is wrong with a physical product (equipment, furniture, etc.) so they can better resolve the issue. The latter is becoming popular in the B2B industry as more employees have camera-equipped smart devices for their work.

3) AI will become more integrated into customer service – No, we’re not talking about a basic chat bot that sends over addresses and phone numbers. That’s not really AI, but a scripted response solution. Instead, AI will evolve in 2019 to be more focused on how it can help agents solve real, complex problems. For example, AI can be leveraged in a customer service software solution to intelligently understand the customer sentiment by how they interact with your business. You’ll be able to see how often a customer feels “frustrated” in their experiences with your service team. This information lets you determine whether it’s necessary to flag the account as “at risk” of leaving your business.

In short, consider both your own and the customer perspective as you plan your 2019 customer service strategy. Implement solutions to reduce ticket volume and closely analyze the tickets that do come in to see how the customer really feels. Lastly, don’t forget to keep an eye on live chat in particular as it’s still a major growing medium in the customer service industry and it will be for several years. Emphasizing these areas will get your strategy started down the right path!