Throughout the past two years, the customer service team has grown in importance, with the C-suite recognizing just how integral customer service is to meeting shifting customer expectations, embracing the rapid pace of digital transformation, and, ultimately, achieving business success.
Customer service leaders and agents have risen to the occasion, all while handling more customer inquiries than ever, embracing new hybrid and fully remote operations, and keeping up with increasing customer experience expectations.
While we can hope that some of the urgency and chaos that we’ve experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may dissipate in 2022, the true value of customer experience is only going to grow, no matter what comes next. The new key performance indicator for businesses of all sizes and industries is customer experience, and that’s why meeting customer expectations and needs is more important than ever. Doing so is the difference between future-proofing your brand, and losing out to the competitor that gets things right, that forges human connections, that leads with empathy, and meets the moment.
With this in mind, Stella Connect by Medallia commissioned a research study of more than 2,100 consumers in the US and UK to get the latest on how customers have evolved their expectations for service.
Here are the key insights we uncovered and our top predictions for what customer service leaders should be prioritizing in 2022 and beyond.
6 Key Customer Service Priorities for 2022
#1: Measuring Real-Time Customer Experience
We predict that real-time customer service data and analytics will be a competitive advantage for brands, enabling them to measure customer experience and implement strategies to improve customer service delivery for the metrics that matter most, including customer satisfaction (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS), and customer effort score (CES).
Brands that fail to do so risk losing half of their customers or more, when poor experiences arise, according to our research.
Our study found that more than half (53%) of customers already have switched due to a poor customer experience—this is a dramatic increase from last year, when just 33% said they’d switched to a competitor after a negative customer service experience.
We also found that an even greater share of customers (60%) say they will stop buying from a brand after a poor customer service experience and yet even more (67%) say that they would stop doing business with a brand after only two or three poor customer service interactions.
#2: Improving First-Call Resolution Rate
We’ve long believed that first-call resolution rate (FCR) is one of the most important customer service metrics. While achieving a perfect 100% FCR may not be attainable, increasing the rate of issues resolved on the first customer outreach is linked with higher CSAT scores, and, according to our latest findings, it may be one of the best approaches for improving customer retention.
Our research found that 70% of individuals are only willing to reach out to customer service two to three times before leaving a negative review or switching brands altogether.
#3: Reducing Customer Effort
The finding that most customers will only reach for help a few times before giving up speaks not only to the importance of tracking and increasing FCR, but underscores why it’s important to measure customer effort score and improve your customer effort score by optimizing agent training and self-correcting behaviors.
#4: Decreasing Response Times
Ahead of agent knowledge about products and services, overall time and effort needed to resolve an issue, personalized communication and resolution, and, finally, agent tone and communication style, response time is what matters the most to customers when contacting customer service.
More than one third (35%) of US consumers and just under 3 in 10 UK consumers say they’d only wait up to 5 minutes for a response from customer service. Just 14% of US and UK consumers say they’re willing to wait up to 15 minutes for a response from a customer service agent. Only 8% of US consumers and 6% of UK consumers say they’re willing to wait more than 15 minutes.
#5: Addressing Negative Customer Feedback
More and more customers are getting fired up after having a poor customer service experience. In fact, just under half (40%) of US and UK consumers say they will post about negative experiences online, this up from 35% in 2020.
Similarly, nearly half (49%) of American and British consumers say they will tell their friends and family to stop buying from a brand after a poor experience, this up from 38% in 2020.
Negative customer feedback is inevitable. What customer service leaders should prioritize in 2022 and beyond is how to get ahead of any issues by proactively collecting real-time customer feedback and addressing challenges and opportunities with agents in the moment leveraging real-time coaching.
#6: Having an Effective Service Recovery Strategy in Place
Negative customer experiences do not have to spell the end of customer relationships. In fact, organizations nearly always have the chance to turn a disappointing situation around. Almost every consumer we surveyed (97%) said they would keep doing business with brands that turn poor experiences into positive ones. Companies can even strengthen brand loyalty in the process, with 84% of US and UK consumers saying that when customer service solves a problem for them, they feel more emotionally connected to the brand.
These insights highlight the importance of service recovery, starting with collecting better customer feedback, following up with affected customers, asking for additional feedback after making things right, and measuring the impact of these efforts on NPS over time.
Customer Service Leaders, Here Are the Top Trends You Need to Know About
From the most common reasons customers reach out to customer service to how customers really feel about personalized experiences, check out our report: Customer Service Trends for 2022: Preparing for the Future of Customer Service to unlock key insights that will help you and your team meet today’s customer expectations.