The phrase “new normal” has become this year’s cliche, however, it’s a great way to define the changing landscape of customer service.
More customer service reps find themselves taking calls and resolving issues away from the office as more businesses adopt remote work policies. More customers find themselves with increased expectations from businesses and their reps, regardless of complications from the pandemic.
Customer service is changing, but just how much? In this article, I’ll discuss three notable trends that are driving this change.
1. Customers expect higher-quality support
The pandemic may have left customer service teams scrambling, but customer service expectations haven’t dwindled. In fact, new research found that 80% of consumers expect “better customer service” during the pandemic.
People are shopping online more frequently as well. A reported 58% of consumers said they expect to shop online more even after the pandemic. That’s a pretty large uptick in just a year.
The stakes have been raised for businesses. Not only does your digital presence need to be in top shape, but you also need to ensure your support systems are ready to handle an influx of customer inquiries. Below are a few immediate ways to bolster your customer service systems in the coming months:
- Incorporate live chat on your website so visitors can reach a support agent with complex questions.
- Utilize a chatbot on your website so visitors can get FAQs answered without having to talk with a human rep. These bots can also offer order updates if a customer has their purchase information ready.
- Upgrade your business phone system so it has features like call routing, call queuing, and auto-attendant so customers reach the right teams as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Adding or upgrading at least one of the above three systems will allow you to offer higher-quality support to your customers.
2. Younger customers find empathy more important than other age groups
We know that one in three U.S. adults have expressed increased anxiety, stress, or sadness throughout 2020. These emotional factors can impact how customers interact with businesses and how they expect businesses to interact with them.
In the same research by Hiver, they found that younger consumers, particularly Gen Z, place more importance on empathy in customer service compared to millennials and baby boomers. You can see the breakdown below:
If your business is wondering how to even go about offering more empathetic customer service, I have a few tips below:
- Level with the customer and try to see the issue through their eyes. Something as simple as “I completely understand why this issue is frustrating. I see your order in our system and I’m going to resolve this. It’ll just take a few minutes.”
- Allow the customer to express their frustration without interrupting. Getting all their issues out in the open right away will give you more context and allows you to resolve their ticket in less time. This is also a great way to improve first contact resolution – if your support team is held to these metrics.
While younger customers require a bit more empathy during customer service interactions, it’s never a bad thing to practice more empathy in general, especially during times of high stress and anxiety.
3. Customers are annoyed with having to explain themselves more than once
No one likes having to explain themselves more than once, especially if they were clear enough the first time. This also applies to your customers. In fact, 50% of consumers said this was one of the most annoying things about poor customer service today.
In addition to having to provide the same explanation more than once, being bounced around to multiple agents was also cited as annoying.
To reduce these annoying occurrences, make sure all your support channels are easily accessible on your website, whether this is live chat, chatbot, email, phone, or all of the above. Also, make sure the right teams can be reached via each channel. For example, your sales team shouldn’t be receiving support inquiries.
If customers prefer to reach your business by phone, like 6 in 10 consumers today, you’ll need the right infrastructure in place to route these calls. An auto-attendant is one of the easiest ways to make sure the right teams receive calls with minimal wait time.
Advanced business phone features, like screen pop, pull customer information from your CRM database ahead of each call, such as purchase history, helpdesk tickets, customer satisfaction, and more.
Give your support teams the support they need
Customer expectations are changing, but the demand for better customer service remains the same. Equipping your agents with the right tools to resolve issues the first time will lead to higher-quality support and less annoyed customers.
In addition to technology, your agents should practice being more empathetic when customers reach your business. In times of high stress and anxiety, we could all use more patience and empathy.