Every few years, customer service trends evolve, but 2021 is likely to see unprecedented and revolutionary changes.
This year, we will likely see a renewed push towards customer empowerment. In other words, brands will no longer decide where the interaction happens; the customer will be in complete control of that.
There will also be a profound shift in boardroom conversations about investing in customer service. For example, customer service budgets will rise to a level on par with marketing or sales, given its importance to business growth. In fact, studies show that this has already been happening over the years.
According to FreshWorks, customer service budgets grew by 75% last year compared to 2019. Coming at a time of a raging pandemic, the drive to transform customer service will target ineffective processes as well as upskill agents to deliver genuine engagement.
Needless to say, technology will be a key enabler underpinning this transformation of customer service – from a ‘cost center’ to a ‘value creation center’ across different industries.
Keeping Pace with Customer Expectations
When the pandemic began to spread, businesses struggled with the double whammy of increased contact volumes and lockdown restrictions. Many brands realized that they needed a new standard for measuring customer service quality. For example, a long-term solution had to be found for repeat calls, multiple transfers across departments, complicated processes, and lack of rapport.
The reason: a negative impact on customer lifetime value.
They also came to another conclusion: hiring more agents without fixing these issues in the ecosystem would also be counterproductive.
Throughout 2020, many brands have taken steps to map their customer journeys and make their processes more efficient. Some priorities included integrating helpdesk and CRM data to create a ‘single view’ of customer interactions. The benefits are many:
- Reduced average handle time,
- Cost savings, and
- Better first contact resolution.
Top Customer Service Trends to Watch Out For
Here are some of the top customer service trends likely to be seen in 2021:
1. Omni-channel support
Omnichannel support is likely to continue being a top priority for customer service teams in 2021. The reason: research shows that 86% of customers expect agents to know them as they switch from one channel to another. For example, from live chat to phone. Seamless customer service interactions across multiple devices make it easier for customers to get their queries answered with ease.
The result: improved CSAT and CES scores.
For businesses, integrating the various communication channels can create a 360-degree customer view across the different stages of the customer journey.
Thus they can better anticipate customer needs and proactively fulfill them before they call to report them. Omni-channel integration gives customer service teams and their complete contextual information about a customer.
On the other hand, managers can view performance statistics in real-time. For example, they can monitor the average ticket resolution rate per agent as well as on a team basis.
2. Video Chat
Post-pandemic, brands are also expected to tap video chat to a greater degree for customer communication. This will help customers bypass endless IVR loops, long hold times while cutting overall operating costs for businesses. Interacting face to face will enable agents to be more empathetic and create rapport with customers. The latest video chat software tools are 100% browser-based and compatible with all types of devices.
They also come with built-in reports and analytics in addition to all the usual tools for agents like call-back scheduler, knowledge base, etc. By tailoring customer service to new expectations, you can leverage video chat to differentiate yourself from the competition.
3. Chatbot integration
At the peak of the pandemic, growing volumes stretched customer service teams thin in response time. This is likely to be a key focus area across channels such as phone and live chat. According to SuperOffice, 75% of customers think quick response is an essential element of good customer service. However, there are cognitive limitations to how quickly agents can respond.
To be fair, research shows that response time for a growing number of customer service teams is now as low as 1 minute. This is where technology tools like intelligent chatbots are making a big impact.
They make it possible for customer service teams to respond instantly to customer requests across multiple channels.
The result: lower cost per ticket.
From the customer experience standpoint, chatbots enable e-commerce stores and virtually any other business to log tickets faster and improve resolution time using conversational AI. This technology is set to dramatically shrink the gap between human and machine-driven customer service conversations in the years to come. It will also enable smaller teams to deliver a better customer experience, thanks to intelligent skill-based routing and built-in agent assist features.
For these reasons and more, chatbots will make further inroads into the customer service industry in 2021.
Research has proved that 73% of customers prefer to find their own answers rather than contacting customer support. In 2021 and beyond, brands will integrate self-service widgets across their websites, social media, and mobile apps. Some of the latest best practices likely to be adopted include updating FAQs with screenshots and video, improved search facility, and AI-based knowledge base revisions.
These techniques are expected to help brands reduce customer effort, boosting loyalty and engagement.
In 2021, the focus is likely to shift to proactive customer service geared to identify possible problems before they arise. Technology tools will primarily drive this change, but the human element is all-important.
After all, the best software is only as good as the customer service agent using it. As teams are forced to adapt to the demands of remote work, service levels may be affected. Bringing in an external customer support provider can help you bridge any gaps.
Helplama has both the experience and the talent to help small and large businesses drive better customer engagement. Our plans are flexible, cost-effective, and come without the baggage of legal contracts.
In case your expectations are not met, our Zero Risk Guarantee has you covered. Contact us today for more information!