There’s no question that 2016 was an incredible year for service. Indeed, it seems like every year adds a few new service startups and ventures to the industry, which now covers such disparate topics and subjects as transit, answers and information, and food delivery—not to mention tech support!
So what’s on the horizon for 2017? Though it’s obviously impossible to predict the future with 100% accuracy, those of us industry heads with a finger to the wind can observe existing trends and offer our opinions on how this next year will pan out.
The growth and diversity of the instant messaging space in 2016 took everyone by surprise. The rise of personal messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and the multitude of others threatens to blur the line between SMS and social network, begging the question: what constitutes a social network in the first place? Facebook, heavily promoting its own messaging app as a standalone product, seems to be hedging its bets. But what does this mean for crowd service?
The rise of free, data powered messaging services (as opposed to costly SMS services) gives crowd service models much greater flexibility. Now, techs can get in touch with users however they want, facilitating cooperation and helping to troubleshoot simple problems remotely. Suddenly, all those small questions you might direct at your nephew every Christmas can be solved by an actual technician, at your fingertips in moments and ready to answer questions whenever you have them.
Imagine: it’s the holidays. You’ve got a brand new 3D TV to set up, but you’re not sure which cable goes where, or even if you have the right ones. Welcome to the club! It turns out that with everyone setting up all their new tech, the holidays have become one of the tech support’s busiest times of the year. But all the stores are closed for the season, meaning that unfortunately for you and your new 3D television, you might have to wait until well into January to get help. No more. With on-demand support, crowd service providers can connect you with a technician no matter the time of year, allowing you to set up your new TV in time for the Die Hard marathon tonight. Isn’t that just great?
If on-demand messaging is going to give a boost to crowd service, chatbots will be an adrenaline shot to the heart. Instead of filling out time consuming forms, a client needing assistance can answer a string of simple, easy-to-understand questions in conversational form to provide the contextual information necessary. Suddenly, the amount of information available to techs and service providers is multiplied, with huge knock-on effects.
With more information available at the beginning, techs are able to provide clients with much more accurate time and cost estimates. This minimizes the amount of time wasted by technicians and empowers the consumer to provide the information themselves. Where before, this series of questions would be attended to by actual paid customer service technicians (outsourced or otherwise), after the initial development costs, chatbots are free. This means greater efficiencies, reduced costs, and better service for the client.
True Crowd Service
Another development that seems more imminent than ever is the arrival of true crowd service. What if the most simple requests could be directed and assigned to people on the internet, separate from your payroll? With the spread of data messaging, this is closer to reality than ever before. As connecting people gets easier and faster, more and more support can happen in real-time, without needing extensive training and vetting. Service can be provided when and where the client requires, on-demand, without the need for scheduling or other complicated arrangements.
2017: The Year for Crowd Service
If 2016 was good for crowd service, 2017 is shaping up to be even better. With the increasing spread and penetration of advanced technology, on-demand tech support is more needed than ever. Luckily, the same technology has enabled tech support to be more flexible and versatile—not to mention mobile. Here’s to another successful year of people helping people!