The new year is a time for change: for testing new strategies, revisiting old goals, and looking ahead for changing industry trends your business will need to adapt to.
We surveyed 1,100 consumers in the United States to learn more about what they’re looking for from businesses and how they’re thinking about customer support in 2021.
Keep reading for the three biggest trends in customer service we’ll see this year, and how your brand can get ahead of the curve.
Trend #1: Customer Loyalty Will Be Harder to Come By
For many brands, customer loyalty is a mission critical part of their overall business strategy.
After all, it can be up to five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain a current customer. When you can create customer loyalty, you create customers who stick around longer, are more likely to refer you to their friends and family, and more likely to make repeat purchases.
But creating loyal customers isn’t as simple as it might sound. To do it, you need to have a robust strategy in place for keeping your customers engaged, happy, and actively using your services.
That’s where customer service teams come in.
If your customer loyalty strategy doesn’t include customer support, you’re missing out on one of the biggest make or break opportunities your business has.
Of consumers surveyed, 64% reported that it would only take 2-3 poor customer service interactions for them to stop doing business with a brand today.
The margin for error, or for delivering less than stellar experiences, is going to be smaller than ever in the new year.
To meet these rising expectations, brands need to double down on their support offerings and ensure consistent, on-brand, and excellent customer service experiences in each interaction.
Trend #2: To Chat or Not to Chat – That is the Question
Consumers are shopping more than ever online, where their contact with a brand is limited and – sometimes – nonexistent.
In fact, in the U.S. alone, e-commerce is now accounting for 16.1% of all sales. That number is up from 11.8% in the first quarter of 2020, and expected to continue to rise throughout the new year.
And these modern customers have continually rising expectations. They want brands to meet them where they are, help them how they want to be helped, and understand their needs before they know they have them.
For many businesses, that means a pivot to more automated and tech-forward ways of providing support, like chatbots. Automated technology can be particularly useful when it comes to easy questions, like finding out a brand’s return policy.
When asked to select the most likely channel for them to seek out first for a general customer service issue, 43% of survey respondents reported defaulting to a phone call. Only 23% opted for chat.
Now, that doesn’t mean to abandon your bots in the new year.
Rather, to create a really successful customer service experience, brands need to combine innovation with optimization. Continuing to invest in new channels is critical, but can only be successful if it’s paired with a strategy focused on making your current support channels even better for your customers.
Trend #3: The Value of Keeping Your Customer Experience Human
Speaking of chatbots, 2021 is going to see a renewed focus on the human aspect of the customer experience.
Customers have become used to transactional relationships with brands, where they research and purchase products in a silo, receive their purchases directly to their homes, and may never interact with the brand again outside of their purchase.
But when they do interact with your brand, what does that experience look like?
For most customers, the only person they’ll ever interact with at your brand is a member of your customer service team. As a result, each agent becomes the face of your brand to your customers.
They can inspire your customers to become repeat buyers, to stick with your brand over competitors, or to share their great support stories with peers and colleagues.
The data speaks for itself.
Of consumers surveyed, 80% of respondents reported that when customer service solves a problem for them, they feel more emotionally connected to the brand.
We mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating: your customer experience is intrinsically tied to your customer service team.
In the new year, make sure you’re investing in your agents as much as any other part of your business. You need to ensure you’re giving your team the tools, resources, and guidance needed to deliver great, on-brand experiences for your customers, no matter where your team is working from.
Staying On Top of the Biggest Trends in Customer Service We’ll See This Year
As we look back on 2020 and ahead to 2021, it’s imperative to look at how the world of support is changing.
For access to all of the data and to find out what your consumers are expecting from your brand in the new year, download our Customer Service Trends for 2021 report and stay ahead of the curve to deliver great customer experiences in the new year and beyond.