By: Emma Miller
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, customer behavior has changed dramatically. To survive, businesses need to adapt by accelerating customer service trends that already exist.
Customer support is a major driver of customer satisfaction and loyalty. According to HubSpot, 93% of consumers are more likely to purchase again from brands with exceptional customer service. On the other hand, 51% of customers would never do business with a company after just one negative experience.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, customer service is now more important than ever. From contactless engagements to the personalization of customer experiences, this uncertain situation is accelerating many trends that have already existed in customer service.
Has Coronavirus created new standards for customer service? What trends to expect in the post-COVID era? Let’s find out.
The Growing Need for AI and Automation
Back in 2018, Gartner performed a comprehensive survey and estimated that approximately 25% of customer service operations would use artificial intelligence and chatbots by 2020. However, Coronavirus has made many businesses to rethink their technology needs, stoking the AI hype.
According to a more recent survey, 71% of IT decision-makers believe that artificial intelligence and automation can improve customer service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, 64% of them are planning to increase investments in automation in 2020 and beyond.
In the era of contactless communication between brands and customers, the number of users relying on live chat is growing. Most importantly, they expect your customer service agents to respond to their questions in real-time. Studies found that 82% of consumers expect immediate answers to sales and marketing questions.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most prevalent forms of artificial intelligence is chatbots. What makes them a popular customer service solution during the Coronavirus pandemic is immediacy. Irrespective of the number of customer service tickets in your inbox, a chatbot will provide each customer with real-time feedback. They can handle minor and repetitive questions, allowing your live chat agents to focus more on complex service inquiries.
For instance, if a customer wants to reset their password, they do not need to wait for your email support or live chat support to get back to them. An AI chatbot will provide them with actionable and immediate tips. Mastercard allows customers to check their transactions directly from their Messenger bot rather than calling their support team or sending emails.
Chatbots also provide an impressive level of personalization. They humanize your brand’s tone of voice, injecting consistency in every conversation. For example, a bot can chat with a user about their preferences and recommend relevant products to purchase. Fashion and beauty brands can also leverage AI to help customers try on different products while chatting with a bot.
Personalization Remains a Top Priority
Coronavirus has already led to a worrying downturn in customer sentiment. Customers now reassess their buying decisions more than ever. Most importantly, they are less tolerant of poor brand experiences. Given that, it is not surprising that personalization still plays a fundamental role in customer service. It helps you insert relevancy in interactions with customers and build a solid foundation for virtual relationships.
However, in the era of social distancing, where many businesses decided to shut their doors and switch to remote working, providing exceptional customer service can be a back-breaking job. While working from home, customer support agents struggle to find ways to communicate with customers across multiple channels.
Investing in a reliable CRM system is one of the most effective ways to insert consistency into customer support. CRM software allows sales and customer service agents to manage multi-channel interactions with customers via a single tool. Above all, it provides them with a 360-degree view of each customer. By keeping relevant customer data, such as their previous purchases, website visits, abandoned shopping carts, or geolocation, your customer service team can deliver highly targeted user experiences.
CRM systems also integrate with a wide range of marketing, sales, and customer service tools. For example, most business phone systems offer CRM integrations. Regardless of their location, service reps stay on top of customer data and personalize user experiences. When a customer calls, an agent will get an on-screen pop-up with the customer’s profile so they can provide more relevant and individualized feedback.
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Self-Service Has Gained Momentum
When wanting to get quick answers to their questions, 40% of customers choose self-service rather than communicating with customer support agents. During the Coronavirus pandemic, when companies’ customer service capacities are lowered, self-service is expected to hit all-time highs.
One of the most effective forms of customer service is a knowledge base. It represents a comprehensive and centralized repository of business and product data. Simply put, a knowledge base is a place on your website, where customers can find the documentation about a company, as well as its products, and services. It typically includes information about how to get started with your products, solve common issues, or make the most out of a product. That is why it needs to be organized into logical segments and easily navigable.
When building a self-service strategy, businesses need to keep in mind that Coronavirus has changed consumers’ mindsets. They are careful of what and where they purchase. To build trust with consumers and deliver value to them, many companies invest hard in building online communities. A community on Slack or Facebook helps brands nurture strong relationships with customers and maintain continuous communication with them. Online communities should not be overly promotional. Use this channel to encourage customers to ask questions, share experiences, and provide feedback. Be a moderator that encourages people to seek help when they need it.
Customer Service during COVID-19 is all about User Experiences
Those are just some of the numerous customer service innovations that have gained popularity since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. The focus is on building meaningful and personalized customer experiences at every touchpoint with your business. Therefore, neglecting these trends is not an option. To stay competitive in a fierce business landscape, you have no choice but to embrace these trends and implement them strategically.
Which trends do you think will dominate the customer service field? Let’s talk!
About the Author
Emma Miller is a marketer and a writer from Sydney, working with Australian startups on business and marketing development. Emma writes for many relevant, industry related online publications and does a job of an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University.