As we wrap up 2023, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and check out the trends that really shook up the world of customer support.
Three stood out to us: effort, personalization, and artificial intelligence. All three feed into what made for a great customer support experience in 2023: feeling recognized. In the digital experience economy, customers (and agents, for that matter) want to be seen and understood — especially since there’s a lot of information available when it comes to authenticated users like loyal customers and employees!
Now, getting the right tech in your toolkit is key to making this recognition dream come true. You need the kind of platform that can handle data like a pro, make info easy to grab, and be there for users no matter where they are. Enter stage left: the Coveo Platform(™). It breaks down data barriers and brings everything together, helping you truly get what each user is after. Plus, it’s the secret sauce for delivering a total experience.
So, in this post, we’re going to dive into each trend and show you how an AI search platform like Coveo can turn those user expectations into dust. Ready for the ride?
Trend #1: Lowering Customer (And Agent) Effort
As we approach the end of 2023, there’s a significant trend gaining momentum that’s set to shape the landscape into 2024 – effortless experiences. Not only is this about making service and support effortless for customers, it’s also about getting in front of questions and issues before they happen.
An example of how one company flipped the script from reactivity to proactivity is Xero, a cloud-based accounting platform with nearly 4 million subscribers. With Coveo’s Generative Relevance Answering, Xero has seen a 20% decrease in search sessions needing additional support.
Xero pulls on their extensive knowledge base (which, according to Executive General Manager Nigel Piper, contains the answer to every question a customer has ever asked) combined with AI to make the self-service process a fruitful one for customers. They use Coveo’s conversational AI function to deliver relevant answers to customer questions in a highly secure, permission-based environment.
In fact, all the new capabilities and features we’ve added throughout 2023 are about making it easier to provide effortless service for both customers and agents. Updates include:
- Coveo Relevance Generative Answering. This feature uses generativeAI (GenAI) technology to create a natural language query based on your enterprise content. Our main objective with generative answering was to address the concern people have around security, privacy, and factuality (e.g., avoiding hallucinations). Coveo makes it easy to embed generative answering throughout your entire service ecosystem.
- Improved Smart Snippets. Using an LLM, Smart Snippets provide contextually accurate answers to user (agent or customer) inquiries directly within a search results page. It extracts relevant answers from the available documents and content which helps users avoid scrolling through a long list of search results.
It does this by stitching together answers from multiple sources and formats (e.g., knowledge base articles, HTML files, and even PDFs) and by taking cues from a user’s search interactions.
- NextGen IPX (In-Product Experience). Why make your customer leave your application to find answers? Launched in April 2023, the NextGen IPX lets them search from within your platform. The next-gen version includes capabilities like CSS styling with a cohesive user interface across various service features.
- Coveo builders. No-code tools for both the Coveo IPX and Insight Panel that let nontechnical users build and customize service components within the Coveo admin console. These modifications can be made in minutes or days versus months.
- Hosted Insight Panel. The Insight Panel is like a search wizard embedded right into your CRM or agent desktop. Agents get a bunch of ready-to-go features like quick views, copy to clipboard, and action recommendations. If you’ve already got Salesforce, the Coveo Insight Panel is available as an out-of the-box feature.
While the above features offer obvious benefits to customers, they also enhance their agent assist systems by making it much easier to find relevant information. The new features are easy for agents to begin using since there’s parity with previous versions of Coveo. This means that users don’t lose the functionality they love.
One useful feature for service reps is the “reviewed by customer” tab, which tracks customer interactions and viewed content, making it easier for agents to understand the context of a customer’s issue.
“That’s the power of working with Coveo for a generative model,” explained Coveo Senior Product Manager Oscar Pere in our Fall 2023 features update webinar. “You get the end-to-end experience not only for any search page, you can also use this model and builder configuration for community support portals, which is currently available for beta customers.
“You can use this in an intranet or in a workplace scenario — same builder, same models, and you will get answers that are just as good as the search page.”
Trend #2: Tolerance for Generic Service at All Time Low
According to McKinsey, customers expect personalized interactions when they do business with a company (hard stop).
From a service perspective, personalization looks different for different people. Increasingly, customers want to be able to find the information they want (if not the resolution) on their own, at least when it comes to their first interaction.
But there is one overarching idea that connects all personalized service interactions — solving problems in ways that show your customers you understand their situation. You can do this by utilizing contextual data to deliver answers that reflect that understanding.
For example, if you know a customer has recently read a document, you call that out to an agent so they can reference that in their conversation via the above-described user actions component in the Coveo Insight Panel.
Or you use our content recommendations engine to display the next likely piece of information the customer will need… for the question that they didn’t know to ask yet. This gets at the true heart of proactive service — after all, the best resolution is the one the customer never had to ask for.
Trend #3: AI Is Now a Cornerstone of Service Strategy
If pressed to summarize 2023 in a single phrase, we’d have to say “generative AI.” In other words AI or Die. Companies have spent 2023 exploring the world of AI – especially generative – and will now focus in 2024 on executing an AI-powered customer service experience. They’ll do this by deploying critical capabilities (which are laid out in this section nicely)
Integrating GenAI into workflows seems like a no brainer — it helps you get more done with less. But ensuring that it’s enterprise ready is expensive, requires expertise, and often means you’ll need to hire new talent and train existing employees.
Certain use cases lend themselves naturally to GenAI including search and information retrieval. At Coveo, for example, we’ve introduced new generative capabilities to improve the self-service experience, focusing on creating answers from multiple documents, including PDFs, while maintaining document security and permissions.
GenAI can help reduce the time it takes to fix problems and answer questions — two important attributes to providing good support. People often don’t complain when they’ve had a bad experience — they just leave. In our survey of 4,000 consumers, 47% said they almost never or rarely complain when they have a negative digital customer service experience.
Of course, none of this is helpful if you don’t have the resources to make it work. That’s why our latest suite of service components make it easy to customize and enhance the service experience with just a few clicks.
With the introduction of no-code builders and seamless Salesforce integration, the Coveo platform makes it possible for enterprise users to quickly deploy new features and updates, often in hours or days versus weeks or months.
A Full-Stack, Composable Platform
Customer support isn’t about isolated interactions. It’s an entire journey of connected experiences that a user takes as they navigate a company’s online and offline ecosystem. To deliver good support across multiple touchpoints in a way that makes sense, you need to connect channels, data, and technology. It’s easy to get this wrong and, as we noted above, customers often don’t let you know when they’ve had a bad experience.
A seamless, cohesive service experience requires advanced technologies like machine learning and a unified index — two ingredients that enable AI search engines like Coveo to meet users wherever they are on their journey. The trends we’ve discussed — effortless support, personalized interactions, and AI integration — aren’t going to disappear anytime soon.
As we move forward, full-stack, composable platforms like Coveo will become catalysts for successful support strategies. By providing a composable infrastructure that is both robust and flexible, Coveo enables businesses to respond to and anticipate support trends. (Not to mention reshape them.)
Interested in any of the above described solutions? Contact us for a free consultation with a Coveo AI expert!