In a world of saturated markets and absence of brand loyalty, companies need to find ways to stand out from the crowd. For some businesses, creating unique products will give them the advantage, but the vast majority of them can only truly set themselves apart by the quality of their customer service.

We look at which trends we can expect to see in 2016.

Brands will need to find a balance between delivering excellent customer service and controlling costs

Modern businesses are well aware that customer experience is essential to their success and they will readily claim that they are customer centric. Yet, in practice, the imperative to be as profitable as possible will exercise a pressure equal to their efforts to provide efficient customer service strategies. So, although customer feedback may well have spurred product development on, innovation in levels of service can be thwarted by financial departments who are looking at the bottom line first and foremost.

To implement new strategies that will give companies a competitive advantage in 2016, the conflict of interest between customer service and costs will need to be resolved.

Quality of customer service will be more essential than ever

Everybody wants to feel valued, and customers want to be treated as individuals. Companies have recognised this and have been investing in new ways of delivering a positive customer experience.

Listening to the same message insisting that ‘your call is important to us’ for 20 minutes belies your statement, yet the solution isn’t necessarily about hiring more call centre agents but about diversification of channels of communication. Self-service on websites and web chat, for example, have seen significant innovation and have delivered better customer experience cost-effectively.

However, one must beware of the reduced level of human interaction in those new forms of customer service, as it has been shown to affect brand loyalty, especially in businesses relying on recurring revenue streams.

Businesses building on qualitative data will be more successful

Taking into account customer feedback is essential to remedy any issue in customer service. Yet, too often, the analysis doesn’t go any further than crunching numbers. It is fantastic to read that your customers are satisfied with your service, but infinitely more useful to understand why.

New Year is the traditional time to make resolutions, so make yours to listen and respond to your customers and nurture brand loyalty.