For better or for worse, it is an unprecedented time to work in customer service. The world of CX is changing faster than ever before, with new trends taking center stage almost every month.
To make sense of this rapid evolution, Zendesk conducted an extensive global survey of consumers, support agents, customer service leaders, and IT professionals. We processed data from 90,000 Zendesk users in 175 countries - businesses of various sizes, from one-person startups to multinational corporations.
Based on the results of this study, we have identified 5 key trends that will determine the direction of customer service development in the near future.
Trend 1: Spotlight on CX
No matter what questions we asked the respondents and what answers we received, there was one recurring idea: customer experience plays a vital role in the success of any business today. During the pandemic, customers have become more selective and demanding. Our data shows that 50% of customers will go to competitors after the first negative interaction with customer service. 80% will cut all ties with the business after two negative interactions.
Why did customer service become so important during the pandemic?
First, consumers are buying significantly more online, with e-commerce growing by 30% in 2020. When shopping online, people value speed and convenience the most. 65% of customers prefer companies with simple and quick order payments.
Secondly, the level of expectations from customer service has grown significantly. When customers interact with your support team, they compare it to giants like Apple and Amazon, not other small and medium-sized businesses.
However, good customer service is nor just a cost center - it’s a competitive advantage. 75% of customers today are willing to pay more to do business with companies who offer excellent service.
Trend 2: A more conversational world
The pandemic fundamentally changed one of the most important aspects of human life: how we communicate with each other. The global audience of instant messengers has already skyrocketed to 2.77 billion users, and continues to grow.
The way we communicate with business is rapidly evolving as well. The survey shows that 64% of consumers tried a new support channel in 2020, and 73% plan to keep using it. Messengers and built-in chats on websites and in apps have taken the lead here. During the pandemic, the number of support requests via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger increased by 100% and 60% respectively. Social networks are another significant player here with a 110% increase over the past year.
This is a great opportunity to start communicating with customers where it is convenient for them. Many customers use the same apps to contact support and to communicate with friends and family. Messengers and social media apps open possibilities for a more personal channel of communication with customers.
Trend 3: Emphasis on agility
The faster the world changes, the faster the business needs to react to it. That’s why Agility was on the top of the list of post-coronavirus priorities for the companies we surveyed.
To become more agile, CX teams need to be able to quickly change their processes, build more effective interactions with other teams, and optimize the load on agents. Our research has shown that more effective support services use more communication channels. Companies today need a technical solution that allows them to work with many different channels quicker, smarter, and more efficiently. The key tool here is the omnichannel solution, which has grown in popularity by 30% over the past year.
Trend 4: The future of work is now
Today, business deals with a completely new reality of work and HR management, in both the technical and organizational aspects. According to our study, the vast majority of executives (92%) have changed their approach to organizing work during the pandemic.
Customer service industry is no exception to this massive change, and perhaps changed most of all. 50% of CX teams completely switched to remote work last year, and 36% of businesses scaled down their customer service. This negatively affected the agents: 68% of them faced a significant increase in workload. Many of the remote teams also continue to underperform, and 48% of agents surveyed report that they don't have the tools to be successful while working from home.
The situation is starting to change for the better. 70% of companies are looking to invest in new ways to engage employees with video calls leading the way (60% of respondents) and team chats (40%) and workload management tools (30%) not far behind.
Trend 5: The digital tipping point
Another recurring theme in all of these trends is the speed of transformation. Forget about far-reaching digital transformation plans for the uncertain future, the time to act is now!
75% of company leaders agree that the global pandemic has compressed the timeline for acquiring new technologies as companies seek new ways to reach customers and connect distributed teams. According to the average assessment of the managers we interviewed, the pace of digitalization has accelerated by 1-3 years.
Technology will play a key role in solving the majority of problems organizations face today. It’s not surprising that about 30% of companies that did not consider it necessary to prioritize technology investments before the pandemic are now willing to spend more. 35% of customer service managers plan to invest in additional services on various channels, 27% - in digital solutions for remote teams.
Perhaps the most obvious common factor in all of these trends is their urgency. The speed of changes in the customer service world has increased dramatically during the pandemic, and leading businesses have ramped up the digital transformation accordingly. It’s no longer a question of staying ahead of the curve - simply put, without digital innovation and tech investments your customer service will dramatically fall behind.
There are many great innovative tech tools that you can invest in to catch up with the latest trends relatively quickly. Chief among them is the omnichannel solution, by far the quickest way to bring your customer service up to speed. Omnichannel is as much a whole new philosophy of customer interaction as it is a software solution.
As the name suggests, the omnichannel solution allows you to seamlessly interact with your customers on all of the popular modern channels, be it social media, messengers, in-app chats, comments, or chat bots. Omnichannel solutions make managing all of these channels much easier, and significantly boost the overall efficiency of your support teams.
There are also plenty of tools for collecting and managing customer data, creating unique integrations for customer interaction channels, increasing the productivity and well-being of remote teams, and many more innovative tech solutions that are worth looking into. The tools that will help your business succeed in these unprecedented times are out there, so don't hesitate and seize the opportunity to transform your business!