Over the past several years, boosting the customer service experience has caught and held businesses’ attention—and rightfully so. After all, good customer service is the deciding factor in sales growth. This focus shift has resulted in a huge turnaround for companies once plagued by bad reputations and the less-than-stellar bottom line to prove it.

Successful organizations have put in work to meet and exceed customer demands, improve relationships, and deliver satisfaction all while maintaining requisite productivity and quality levels. Competitors are paying attention and upping their game accordingly.

For winning organizations, their success has been buoyed by software and tool investments as well as improved website functionality and the addition of staff members focused on optimized customer engagement.

The following lists the top five innovations in customer service those winning brands are adopting.

1. More Attention to Automation

Modern customers want their questions and concerns handled quickly and efficiently. With the appropriate resources readily available, customers have no problem seeking and finding the information they desire independently. If they still have to get on the phone to get their matter addressed, they expect to get connected to the right agent with the right information right away.

CRM and service automation platforms deliver on this critically time-sensitive expectation. Be it a round-the-clock self-service portal, help center or chatbot, automation is a cost-effective way to give customers exactly what they want.

2. Multi-Faceted Customer Agents

It used to be that agents were hired based on their expertise in one particular customer service channel. For example, those with awesome call center skills were placed accordingly while savvy typists manned the chat channel.

Customer care agents today are crossed-trained for expertise in all customer engagement mediums including social media, email, chat, phone and text. Businesses benefit from this skillset flexibility by using and moving agents to serve customers no matter what their preferred mode of communication is.

3. Amplified Chat Support

Though customers expect a consistently great experience across all communication channels, more and more customers are making live chat their method of choice.

This preference is easy to understand. With so many customers moving online to make purchases or research buying decisions, they want to be able to receive the service they need while shopping. What’s more expedient and effective than live chat software? As with a traditional phone call, customers can converse in real-time but receive the additional benefit of having a communication record of what was discussed. Chat systems are accessible from mobile devices and chats can be conducted whenever and wherever customers need additional assistance.

Of course, chat solutions must work well and deliver the response customers need and expect. When customers have a good live chat experience, they are left feeling equally good about an organization, and the support they’ve received.

4. More Self-Service Offerings

Consumers are incredibly opposed to wasting time and money in any way. That includes not wanting to spend lengthy moments on a call with endless prompts when they need basic information such as fees, business hours or branch locations. Businesses are therefore taking steps to make such information easy to find on their websites or on search engines such as Google to facilitate this type of self-service demand.

Helpdesk solutions help streamline self-service. Companies are discovering that these types of self-service tools are good business moves because they meet customer expectations while reducing support costs.

5. Customer Service Via Social Media

Social media has become a modern cultural mainstay. Both consumers and businesses understand that their presence on these sites are a necessity for relevancy at least and popularity at most. Hence customer care on social media is crucial because it supports a means for instant customer connection, brand loyalty growth, and instant customer gratification through chat messaging upon the customer’s preferred social media channel.

More important, as more businesses expand the care they provide on these channels, more consumers are beginning to rely on it. Any business who doesn’t embrace social media as a vehicle for customer support runs the risk of losing a customer to the business who does.

Such social media monitoring tools as HootSuite, TweetReach, and Buzzsumo, aid companies in responding to customer concerns quickly by tracking discussions and picking up on brand mentions. With this insight, customer service reps can move expediently to address customer questions and issues—and provide customers with the sense that their words aren’t falling upon deaf ears with brands.

Even as companies work to up their customer service game and demonstrate to customers that their business is both valued and appreciated, there is still more room for improvement. No matter if your organization is just embarking on your optimized customer experience journey, or continuing on a well-established path with added innovations, today’s marketing landscape more than indicates exactly how and why being customer-centric is necessary for company survival and success.

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