2020 was a year marked by uncertainty. Lockdowns, social distancing, and the various measures implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 meant a complete change in lifestyle for billions globally.
Businesses bore the brunt of the assault, having to adapt quickly to survive. Companies had to adopt new working methods while still providing the support upon which consumers can rely. Customer service departments became critical tools as 64% of clients became anxious because of the pandemic’s implications.
According to SupportYourApp, we can say for sure that client support looks different today than it did a year ago. Which changes are permanent remain to be seen, but it’s clear that approaching 2021 with the same customer service strategy that we did in 2020 isn’t going to work?
In this post, therefore, we’ll look at some changes that will carry over into 2021 and beyond. Understanding these will enable you to adjust your customer service strategy for 2021 effectively. PwC study, our working environments will change permanently as:
- 30% of executives foresee a reduction in office space of at least 5%
- 69% of companies and 71% of team members felt that remote working was successful
- 83% of team members wish to work remotely at least one day a week once the pandemic is over
With these shifting attitudes, companies must ensure that their remote consultants have the tools that they need to perform optimally. The stopgap measures instituted earlier in the year will require a permanent fix.
The Focus is on Service Specialists
Customer service is taking on an increasingly important role, and companies may no longer rely on mediocre service channels. The customer experience must be consistent across all communication channels. Support consultants will no longer simply answer questions but play a vital role in relationship building.
Firms must train agents to deliver impeccable service. They should look to existing industry leaders for goals towards which to aspire. For those firms without the resources to do so, outsourcing the function provides a viable alternative.
A customer-centric support desk ensures that queries are answered quickly, accurately, and efficiently. Companies must provide them with the tools that allow them to analyze the records and communicate effectively.
Companies must also work towards creating a hyper-personalized experience. Consultants must be able to view client data from different departments in one area. This will allow them to provide recommendations that exhibit genuine knowledge of the client.
Artificial intelligence will significantly affect the collation of data and forecasts about what clients might require in the future.
Be Prepared or More Digital Shopping
Consumers that didn’t previously spend much time shopping online were forced to do so during the pandemic. Having experienced the benefits of doing so, they’ll continue beyond 2021.
Increased e-commerce activity requires a shift in customer service strategy. Companies audit their websites and incorporate digital-first support options. Areas to work on include:
- Live chat either through human or chatbot support
- A well-researched knowledge base with an extensive FAQ section
- Content marketing to explain the core concepts behind products and provide information for clients
- Robust search function
Omnichannel Now Includes Video Support
The customer support desk faces an increasingly challenging role as they become the face of the company. Consultants in a brick and mortar store have the advantage of being able to see and speak to the client. Agents answering calls and emails cannot pick up on the non-visual clues the client gives, making their work more challenging.
Going forward, video support will become an integral part of the service strategy. With clients opting for online shopping over brick and mortar stores, customer support will fulfill the need for personal interaction.
Being able to see the agent on the other side of the line makes it easier to build a rapport. Seeing the consultant react and speak reassures the client that they’re dealing with a live person.
Be Ready to Scale Up Support and Improve Efficiency
In 2020, consumers were willing to give businesses some leeway. They understood that everyone was undergoing the same challenges. After spending most of the year adjusting to the new normal, they’re starting to expect more from businesses again.
Clients want issues resolved quickly, with as little effort as possible. They expect companies to provide timely support via the contact methods that they prefer.
Businesses must audit their current processes and ensure that their support centers run as efficiently as possible. Highly trained team members using the right tools combine to provide a solid foundation for increased efficiency.
Businesses should also consider a scaling strategy that allows them to adjust to an influx of support requests as quickly as possible.
There’s More to a Client than a Dollar Value
Companies think of clients in terms of their monetary value. We look at metrics such as the Customer Lifetime Value or pinpoint, where the client is in the buying cycle. While these statistics provide crucial information, they’re only a small part of the picture.
Who is more valuable to the company?
- Client A spends $50 a year
- Client B spends $300 a year
Statistically, the answer is Client B. When we consider the less tangible metrics, however, the picture changes. What if Client A refers to 5 of their friends, and they each spend $50 a year? What if Client B expects freebies to the value of $30 to close the sale or calls support several times a month?
All clients are valuable to the company. In the past, we’ve worked on the principle that it’s essential to look after the clients that spend the most with us. It’s a good practice in principle, but it may fall short going into 2021.
Instead of focusing merely on a client’s dollar value, firms should work towards converting clients to brand advocates.
2020 emphasized the need for a flexible, customer-focused service strategy. Going forward, clients will expect brands to treat them as valued partners rather than merely another mark in the sales column. Brands that strive toward meeting the market’s changing needs will be seen as responsive service leaders and come out on top.