5 customer service trends that will skyrocket your CX in 2021
Let’s face it: 2020 has been quite an unusual year that nobody could have predicted to turn out like this. Many companies needed to adapt their business models and their way of working. Customer service was no exception. Monitoring the changes closely, here are five trends we conclude are crucial to deliver a great service experience next year and support your customers in the best way possible.
1. Supporting the shift from physical to digital interactions
Offering omnichannel support and self-service are not new trends, but they are here to stay and become even more important. Some things have changed this year:
Customers shifted their shopping behaviour from brick-and-mortar-stores to online.
Contactless methods spread through various daily touchpoints: payments, check-ins, digital menus, smartphone keys, etc.
Keeping in touch via digital tools, like video conferencing and messaging apps, replaced physical interactions.
With many different generations of customers, the preferred contact methods differ vastly. Gen Z rather chats or sends a voice message than calls support as opposed to the older generations like Generation X and the Baby Boomers. Despite all the growing digital channels, customer service via phone is far from being dead.
According to Salesforce, people pick up the phone in times of uncertainty as 93% use it to contact customer service. Yet, digital channels outperform the phone in terms of response time - we all dread the well-known mantra telling us to hold until an agent becomes available. So why not combine both to deliver a faster service experience?
By introducing self-service and advanced automation to the phone channel, IVRs are becoming more intelligent and calls can be deflected. The trend is going towards chatbot-like approaches on the phone, having a virtual agent take the call. Voice recognition and user identification will power up those good old IVRs and make the service experience more personal, fun and interactive.
Another option of call deflection would be to offer customers to change channels for faster answers. While being on hold, pointing the customer to the company's digital support offers, like a chatbot or messaging channels, helps as requests can be solved more quickly and even by the customer directly with no agent action needed. And the customers who really need to talk to someone will benefit from reduced waiting times.
3. Human support + automation = 💜
Despite all the ongoing trends towards AI and automation, humans cannot be fully replaced. Some conversations simply need a human touch by empathetic and knowledgeable support agents. Companies are embracing the huge potential of combining human efforts with automation. Together they can create a service experience that is personal, speedy and efficient, making customers feel heard and appreciated.
With the unexpected hardships of this year’s crisis customer requests can be more emotional and need to be handled with care. Yet, customers should also be able to regain control over their support requests by being empowered and encouraged through self-service. Chatbots allow for quick solutions while agents can focus on more complex cases.
Remember: Always offer the option to seamlessly handover to an agent at any time in case the customer’s problem needs to be escalated. The service experience you offer as a company is your key differentiative factor - more important than your product or price. It’s time to put relationships over transactions.
Christian is a co-founder and chief customer officer at Solvemate. He has spent the last decade scaling up SaaS startups across Oslo, Copenhagen, San Francisco and Berlin. He's into every sport that involves either a ball or a board. Or anything really, as long as it’s a competition :)